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Contract projections for Buffalo Bills free agents

The Bills have a long list of free agents. Here are some contract projections.

The Buffalo Bills have a long list of free agents they can deal with before the NFL’s free agent period opens next month. The Bills don’t have a ton of salary cap space to sign these players, though, and they will have to be judicious on who stays and who goes.

We’re giving you our best guess about what these Bills will sign for if they hit the open market. It doesn’t take into account a hometown discount the Bills might receive. This is the contract we think it will take to prevent free agency, so approach it that way. We’ve arranged them in order of average yearly value.

LB Preston Brown

Four years, $38 million
Average: $9.5 million
2018 cap hit: $6.5 million

Brown is going to look for a massive payday and he’s going to find it somewhere after leading the league in tackles last year. He probably won’t get this large of a contract, but the comparable contracts are certainly there, as we detailed in our breakdown.

CB E.J. Gaines

Four years, $35 million
Average: $8.75 million
2018 cap hit: $5.85 million

The detailed breakdown on Gaines adds a per-game active bonus based on Gaines’ injury history, but it’s not as large as most fans would like to see. The Bills defense was better when he was on the field but he did fight through several injuries that took him off the field for 40% of the team’s snaps.

WR Jordan Matthews

Four years, $30 million
Average: $7.5 million
2018 cap hit: $3.5 million

Our detailed breakdown for Matthews shows comparable free agents signing for relatively big money. We slott Matthews just below those big money players based on a down year and reliance on massive catches to achieve similar numbers. He’s going to be valuable to some team, but is it Buffalo?

DT Kyle Williams

Two years, $13 million
Average: $6.5 million
2018 cap hit: 4.5 million

We did a detailed breakdown for Williams, showing why this contract makes sense. Williams hasn’t lost a step and with Buffalo’s tenuous salary cap position, the two-year deal makes more sense to spread out some of Williams’ financial burden into 2019.

OT Seantrel Henderson

Two years, $4 million
Average: $2 million
2018 cap hit: $1.5 million

Henderson’s breakdown is so hard to predict but he’s played in under three different offensive line coaches in his career and has 27 starts to his name plus he can play both sides of the line. Some needy team is going to pay him but they will also be leery of his suspension history and the fact that he was replaced by Jordan Mills.

CB Shareece Wright

One year, $870,000
Average: $870,000
2018 cap hit: $710,000*

Wright signed a one-year, $1.1 million contract with Buffalo a year ago coming off a solid three-year, $13 million deal he wasn’t able to finish with the Baltimore Ravens. Wright’s market diminished to the point where Buffalo was able to sign him at barely above minimum on a one-year deal and he didn’t do anything noteworthy as the team’s dime cornerback. At 30, he’ll be on a minimum salary in 2018.

CB Leonard Johnson

One year, $870,000
Average: $870,000
2018 cap hit: $710,000*

Here’s a breakdown of the veteran minimum benefit* that allows teams to claim a lower salary cap number than what they are actually paying a few vets.

Veteran Minimum Benefit contracts

Here are the other free agents on Buffalo’s roster that played on minimum contracts in 2017 and would qualify for the veteran minimum salary benefit in 2018. Since we aren’t paying the salary (thanks Kim & Terry), the only thing that really matters is the cap hit which will be $710,000 for each of them on one-year deals.

  • WR Brandon Tate
  • RB Mike Tolbert
  • LB Ramon Humber
  • S Colt Anderson
  • QB/ST Joe Webb
  • DT Cedric Thornton
  • RB Taiwan Jones
  • S Shamarko Thomas
  • RB Travaris Cadet
  • WR Deonte Thompson

Two Buffalo Bills free agents have also recently come off their rookie contracts or accrued their fourth NFL season, meaning they will now be eligible for the same veteran minimum benefit. We discussed Seantrel Henderson above, while the other is listed below.

  • WR Jeremy Butler

Exclusive Rights Free Agents

Buffalo has four exclusive rights free agents on their roster with fewer than three accrued NFL seasons. If Buffalo offers them a one-year minimum salary deal at their years of experience, they can’t play for another team so the Bills are in the strongest of negotiating positions and the players will sign. Buffalo could offer more money, too, and sign them long-term or they could wait until next year to do that. With their salary cap situation, they should wait.

  • TE Nick O’Leary (two seasons): $630,000
  • CB Lafayette Pitts (two seasons): $630,000
  • TE Logan Thomas (two seasons): $630,000
  • DE Eddie Yarbrough (one season): $555,000