The Buffalo Bills are seen as the odds-on favorite to land a Pro Bowl pass catcher after the AFC East champions used some cap maneuvering to make space.
On Tuesday, the team announced that they had restructured the contract for All-Pro Stefon Diggs, handing him a big payday and freeing up the space to make at least one more major offseason acquisition. That has ramped up speculation that the Bills could go after a disenchanted member of the Philadelphia Eagles who could help shore up one of the team’s most underperforming offensive positions.
The latest Bills news straight to your inbox! Join the Heavy on Bills newsletter here!
Bills Make Space
Though some big offseason signings to hold onto key players left the Bills with little cap space, they have not bought themselves some space by handing Diggs a huge payday. As Matt Parrino of Syracuse.com reported, the team converted $11.7 million of his 2021 base salary into a signing bonus, which gave them an additional $7.8 million in cap space. The move bumped the team up from roughly $3.2 million in cap space to $11 million, enough to make at least one more big move.
The Bills had already done some similar work to free up space. As SB Nation’s Buffalo Rumblings noted, the team in March converted part of Tre’Davious White’s base salary to a signing bonus, giving him $9.46 million in converted salary upfront and helping make room to complete some other key signings.
But the more recent move has sparked speculation that the Bills may target a Pro Bowl pass catcher who appears to be on the trade block. Eagles tight end Zach Ertz has reportedly grown dismayed with the team and wants out. As CBS Sports noted, there would be a financial incentive for Philadelphia to deal him, and oddsmakers have put the Bills on top of the list of potential suitors.
Ertz still is under contract by the Philadelphia Eagles and is on the hook for $12,721,500 this season, but Philadelphia can save $8.5 million in salary cap space if the franchise can cut or trade Ertz after June 1 (as opposed to $4.952 million prior to the June 1 deadline). With the Eagles being able to save more cap space after Tuesday, the phone lines are open for the veteran tight end to be dealt (the Eagles would of course prefer not to release Ertz and receive draft compensation for him).
Bills Look to Improve at Tight End
If the Bills were to land Ertz, it would help address one of the most underperforming skill positions. Though the team had one of the league’s best passing attacks last season, the tight ends contributed little, with the trio of Tyler Kroft, Lee Smith and Knox combining for 442 yards and eight touchdowns.
After the Bills fell to the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC Championship game — a contest where the Bills defense was gashed by tight end Travis Kelce — Bills general manager Brandon Beane said that the team would actively look for an upgrade at the position.
“There’s some really good players that we see getting signed that would be great fits but they’re signing for more than we can currently afford,” he said, via The Athletic. “We’re continually looking and trying to find those pieces that are maybe looking for the right fit. Maybe money isn’t their number one priority. Maybe it’s something else like location, maybe they’re hoping to join a team that was in the AFC Championship and was a step away.”