Buffalo Bills restricted free agent Chris Hogan has signed a three-year, $12 million offer sheet from the New England Patriots, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network. The Bills now have five days to match the Patriots offer, though it's unlikely they will do so.
Barring a late snag, #Bills RFA WR Chris Hogan will sign a 3-year, $12M, heavily-guaranteed deal to join #Patriots. BUF has 5 days to match— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) March 11, 2016
The truth is out there; the Bills could afford Hogan as a $1.67 million player, but not a $2.3 million player. If they had more cash, maybe they would have tendered him at the second-round level in order to receive a second-round pick in return if he signed elsewhere. Instead, they left him open to be poached without anything in return for a relatively paltry sum.
If the highly likely event that the Bills don't match the Patriots' offer sheet, they'll receive no compensation when Hogan changes teams.
It's true that Buffalo has $3 million in salary cap space currently, but spending a portion of that to sign Hogan would mean they would be so hard up against the cap, they might not be able to sign an injury replacement later in the offseason or at the beginning of the season. They would essentially be in the market for veteran minimum guys would could fill a role without adding anything to the salary cap.
The Patriots have three times as much cap space as the Bills right now. Buffalo's cap space will go up by roughly $1.1 million if (when) they decide not to match, but they will need to upgrade their thin wide receiver depth after the departures of Hogan and (probably) Percy Harvin.