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Leodis McKelvin contract extension could save Buffalo Bills 2016 cap space

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The Bills don't have to cut Leodis McKelvin to save 2016 cap room, or even force him to take less money in the final year of his deal - they could also offer him a contract extension. Here's how that would work.

Recognizing that his $3.9 million in 2016 cash pay, injury-plagued 2014 and 2015 seasons, and age (he'll turn 31 before the 2016 season) are working against him, Leodis McKelvin recently acknowledged that a pay cut may be necessary to stay with the Buffalo Bills in 2016. Let's take a quick look at what a pay cut, via an extension of his current contract, might look like to keep McKelvin in Buffalo, while saving money for the  Bills' tight 2016 salary cap situation.

Although McKelvin may have "a lot of money in the bank," it seems unlikely he would be willing to take solely the minimum salary to stay in Buffalo. In 2015, veteran cornerbacks such as Terence Newman, Tarell Brown, Charles Tillman, Rashean Mathis, and Alan Ball entered the season under contracts with 2015 cash pay ranging from $1.5 million (Brown) to $3 million (surprisingly, Ball).

Although by no means a star, McKelvin was tied for third in the NFL with four interceptions prior to breaking his ankle against Miami in 2014. And while aging, being 31 doesn't make you washed-up; he's still younger than many of the players listed above. If the market might dictate that McKelvin receive 2016 cash pay around $3 million ($900,000 lower than his current pay), based on his comments about wanting to stay in Buffalo and being financially secure, let's speculate that an extension will pay McKelvin about $2 million in 2016 cash pay.

A two-year extension added onto McKelvin's existing 2015 contract - let's call it a three-year, $9.5 million deal in total, with a $1.9 million pay cut in 2016, and with a $900,000 signing bonus - might do the trick. The Bills could also add the "rolling" type of guarantee to benefit McKelvin, and guarantee his 2017 salary at some point early on during the 2017 league year.

The cash pay breakdown of that deal:

Payment type 2016 2017 2018
Signing Bonus $900k $0 $0
Salary $1 million $2.5 million $2.5 million
Roster Bonus $0 $350k $350k
Per-game bonus $100k $750k $750k
Workout Bonus $0 $150k $150k
Total $2 million $3.75 million $3.75 million
NLTBE incentives $250k $1 million $1 million

Now, the deal broken down by salary cap hits:

Payment type 2016 2017 2018
Old bonus proration $1 million $0 $0
New bonus proration $300k $300k $300k
Salary $1 million $3 million $3 million
Roster Bonus $0 $350k $350k
Per-game bonus $100k $750k $750k
Workout Bonus $0k $150k $150k
Total cap hit $2.4 million $4.05 million $4.05 million
NLTBE incentives $250k $1 million $1 million

The above structure would force McKelvin to almost halve his 2016 cash pay in reducing it from $3.9 million to $2 million (with NLTBE potential for $250,000 more, a number which the Bills could increase). For the Bills, the deal would decrease McKelvin's 2016 cap hit from $4.9 million to $2.4 million, saving $2.5 million. As McKelvin's old contract contains $1 million in prorated signing bonus money that will hit the Bills' 2016 cap no matter what, the Bills would only be adding an additional $1.4 million to McKelvin's 2016 cap hit.

To incentivize McKelvin to accept such a significant pay reduction, the Bills might need to utilize the later years of the contract to pay McKelvin relatively handsomely if he performs well in 2016. If McKelvin is again injured or plays poorly, the small signing bonus will not create a dead money hit, preventing the Bills from cutting ties with McKelvin after 2016. While for McKelvin, if his career rebounds, he is either paid well by the Bills in 2017, or he is able to enter the market and receive a similar type deal in the ever-warm cornerback market.