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Matt Cassel, EJ Manuel salary cap considerations for Buffalo Bills

Tyrod Taylor has been named the Buffalo Bills' starting quarterback. What does that mean for Matt Cassel and EJ Manuel, and the Bills' salary cap situation if the team parts ways with either veteran?

Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

The last day of August was an eventful one for Buffalo Bills fans, with head coach Rex Ryan confirming that Tyrod Taylor will be the team's starting quarterback on September 13 against the Indianapolis Colts.

Now that the starting quarterback race has finished, the fates of Matt Cassel and EJ Manuel are now on our minds. Will the Bills keep both? Will they try to trade one? Could either end up on the cut list? Let's consider all of those ramifications.

Cut or trade Cassel

  • Cap savings: $4.15 million
  • Dead money: $600,000

As Cassel does not have any prorated bonus or guaranteed money left on his contract, the cap consequences of cutting or trading him would be identical. Although the team has already paid him a $500,000 roster bonus and a $100,000 workout bonus, if cut, all of Cassel's 2015 salary of $4.15 million would be saved.

Cut Manuel

  • Cap savings: Between $500,000 and $1.2 million
  • Dead money: $1.2 million in 2015, and at least $1.2 million in 2016)

From reports when he signed, it is assumed that Manuel's rookie contract contains offset language for his guaranteed money, hence the range of potential cap savings. Assuming Manuel is signed by another team, whatever salary that team pays him will be offset from the guaranteed money the Bills are scheduled to pay Manuel this year (just over $1.2 million). If Manuel is still in the league in 2016, the same result will follow again, with the Bills' guarantee to pay Manuel $1.6 million reduced by whatever salary he receives from another team. The remaining value of Manuel's prorated signing bonus would be split in equal $1.2 million dead money hits in 2015 and 2016.

Trade Manuel

  • Cap savings: $1.2 million
  • Dead money: $1.2 million in both 2015 and 2016

If the Bills find a trade partner for Manuel, they are still on the hook for Manuel's prorated bonus amounts, but would be relieved of the obligation to pay the combined $2.8 million in salary Manuel is owed in 2015 and 2016.

Despite the presence of the rookie wage scale, first-round picks still carry potential future cap risk if they do not work out. Manuel's sizeable prorated bonus payments and fully-guaranteed contract make cutting him a somewhat costly proposition with very little cap relief. Cutting Cassel would save the Bills a decent amount of cap space, but remove a veteran presence from the quarterback room and force the team to enter the season with two unproven signal-callers.