Every NFL team has contracts they wish they could ditch or players they hoped would live up to the big money handed them in free agency. Most of the time, that's not how it worked.
These Buffalo Bills provided the least return on their investment during the 2015 season. The number we use has been calculated by OverTheCap.com, and is the player's total salary cap figure for 2015 including prorated portions of signing bonuses, salary, and any other bonuses paid. Note that we ignore dead cap money from guys not on the roster, like C.J. Spiller ($2.1 million), Alan Branch ($1.55 million), and Kyle Orton ($1.5 million). We also don't hold long-term injuries that cost a multitude of games against players like Kyle Williams and Aaron Williams. That's just unfair.
EJ Manuel ($2.4 million)
Backup quarterbacks get paid more money than many starters at other positions. We won't hold that against EJ Manuel. He was the 37th-highest paid QB in 2015 and that's about where you might expect him to be in the pecking order. In terms of bang for the Bills, he certainly should be on the list. He made two starts, going 0-2, and played a handful of snaps as somewhat of a Wildcat QB for the Bills offense. The old saying is you expect your back-up to be .500, and Manuel didn't live up to that in 2015. He'll probably be back next year, though.
Corey Graham ($4.45 million)
Graham transitioned to safety last offseason and did a decent job at his new position, especially considering the loss of Aaron Williams at the other safety spot. While a sure tackler, Graham was frequently caught out of position in pass coverage, notching only four passes defended all season. His name has surfaced as a possible offseason roster cut, even though Williams' status is still up in the air and they have no one behind him who could step in.
Kraig Urbik ($2.2 million)
The 15th-highest paid left guard in the league, Urbik's hit was more than three time the eventual starter, John Miller. (Both are listed as left guards by OTC for some reason.) Richie Incognito's $1.45 million was also well below Urbik's. Simply put, they got a fill-in interior lineman who played in 40% of the team's snaps. They could have done this cheaper though injuries to John Miller kept it respectable.
Dan Carpenter ($2.36 million)
The eleventh-highest paid kicker in the NFL shouldn't be missing that many extra points. Hovering around 85% on both field goals and extra points, he was 18th and 30th in those two categories among kickers who qualified. (Meanwhile, former Bills draft pick Dustin Hopkins bested him in both categories for the league minimum.)
Leodis McKelvin ($4.9 million)
After breaking his ankle midway through the 2014 season, it took McKelvin a calendar year to get back on the field but that's not why he's on the list. While he played acceptably down the stretch, at that price tag you would expect more. He made two nice interceptions and recovered a fumble while transitioning to a new role at safety (after being passed on the cornerback depth chart) but if he'd like to return in 2016, he'll need to take a pay cut.
Jerome Felton ($1.75 million)
Felton played just 27% of the Bills' offensive snaps in 2015 and seemed to be a man without a home in Greg Roman's offense for much of the year. He did have that one rushing attempt for two yards and one reception for 12 yards to fall back on, I suppose. Oh yeah, he was the second-highest paid fullback in the league.
Mario Williams ($19.4 million)
A massive contract like this should yield elite results. When you give a quarterback $19 million, you expect a playoff run on the back of elite play. It might not be fair to compare the two positions but that's the type of impact you expect those players to have. Mario's cap hit was the second-highest for any defensive lineman in 2015. The media and his own teammates were publicly questioning his effort throughout the season as he didn't buy in to the team-first style of defense Rex Ryan advocated. His five sacks were the lowest total in a full season since he was a rookie. He made fewer tackles than he has in any season he played more than five games. It's not surprise his name is at the top of the list of possible offseason cuts.