The Buffalo Bills took a nibble out of their salary cap deficit with a contract restructure for a backup defensive lineman this weekend, and one insider believes they’re about to take a huge bite with their next move.
With the start of free agency now just days away, the Bills will have some work to do in climbing out of the roughly $20 million cap deficit they have amassed. They started the work by restructuring veteran Tim Settle’s contract on March 11, bringing them close to $600,000 of space.
The next move — which could erase the rest of the cap crunch in one swoop — could come in the form of a contract restructuring for quarterback Josh Allen. CBS Sports insider Chris Trapasso believes that change is coming soon.
Bills Expected to Make Big Moves
Allen’s salary is set to take a big jump, going from $16.3 million last year to $39.7 in the upcoming season. As David De Cristofaro of USA Today’s Bills Wire pointed out, that would represent 17.5% of the team’s total cap hit.
As De Cristofaro noted, the Bills have the ability to erase nearly all of that number from the cap next season.
“For context, Allen has a 2023 base salary of $27.5 million in 2023, and if Beane were to convert that number down to the veteran minimum and spread the difference ($21.1 million) out over his remaining contract as a signing bonus, just like that the Bills would be under the cap,” he wrote.
Many insiders joined Trapasso in predicting that Allen’s contract will be restructured soon. Bleacher Report’s Alex Kay also pegged Allen as one of the league’s most likely players to see a contract restructure before the start of free agency.
Other Moves Coming for Bills
The Bills could make a number of other moves to save cap space, including looking at the contract of other players. As Jay Skurski of the Buffalo News noted, Bills general manager Brandon Beane has already said at the NFL combine that the team would be restructuring some contracts to create the cap space needed for signing free agents and draft picks.
“We will strategically push some money forward with some restructures coming up to get under the cap,” Beane said. “We’ll definitely restructure some guys and do what we need to do to get under the cap and then give us the opportunity to operate and fill some holes on both sides of the ball.”
Some of the cap savings could also come from releasing veteran players. The Athletic‘s Joe Buscaglia identified running back Nyheim Hines as the most likely candidate, noting that he will be too costly to keep at his current price.
“Hines arrived in Buffalo as they hoped he would be a missing piece on the offense, but he never became a regular feature for offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey,” Buscaglia wrote. “Hines did make himself a valuable player as a kickoff returner, but that usually doesn’t equate to a nearly $5 million cap hit.
“The Bills could save more money by cutting Hines than on any other non-core player, and it isn’t close. The cap hit likely needs to be addressed as is. So don’t be surprised if the Bills attempt to get Hines to agree to a pay cut to keep him and save cap dollars.”