The Buffalo Bills entered free agency this offseason hard up against the salary cap which meant the franchise was in no position to make any big-splash moves. While the Bills haven’t made any blockbuster trades, they’ve made a series of roster moves to bulk up numerous areas of the team, in particular, the defensive line.
While Buffalo lost fan-favorite defensive tackle, Harrison Phillips, to the Minnesota Vikings, they wasted no time filling his vacant role. The Bills agreed to terms with former Washington Commanders defensive tackle Tim Settle and signed former Carolina Panthers lineman DaQuan Jones.
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Even though Bills general manager Brandon Beane said earlier this month that he would “love” to keep Phillips, it was clear they couldn’t afford to keep the 26-year-old tackle, who went on to sign a three-year, $19.5 million contract with the Vikings. So when ESPN’s Alaina Getzenberg revealed on Tuesday, March 15 that Buffalo signed Jones to a two-year, $14 million contract, with $10.6 million guaranteed — much of Bills Mafia was hit with sticker shock.
“That seems a litttttle high, no?” one fan tweeted, while the bulk of Bills fans responded to Getzenberg with one-word expletives of disappointment. In response to the backlash, Getzenberg urged fans to be patient until all the details of the 30-year-old’s contract were revealed.
“Wouldn’t rush to judgement just yet. More details needed on the particulars before that,” Getzenberg said in a follow-up tweet. “AKA everyone stay calm. Initial numbers from the player’s agency don’t tell the full story.” The Athletic’s Joe Buscaglia simply tweeted, “#WaitForTheContractDetails.”
However, even cap analyst Greg Tompsett was surprised by Jones’ 8-figure contract. “We know they used void years, so we’ll need to see the details on what are incentives… but that’s more than I anticipated,” the Cover 1 reporter tweeted.
Jones’ Contract Could Be Similar to Settle’s, Which Seems Much Larger on the Surface
Settle signed a two-year, $9 million deal, which sounds like a lot for the former fifth-round pick from the 2018 NFL Draft, but the contract includes a void year on the back which lowers his cap hit to just $2.6 million for the 2022 NFL season, per The Buffalo News reporter Jay Skurski.
While Settle’s base salary of $1.03 million in 2022 is fully guaranteed, “his $1.915 million 2023 base salary is guaranteed now for injury and becomes fully guaranteed if he’s on the roster on the fifth day of the 2023 league year,” Skurski wrote.
“There is a third year on Settle’s contract that automatically voids if he’s on the roster on the 23rd day of the preceding start of the 2024 league year. That’s a way for the Bills to stretch out Settle’s signing bonus over three years on the salary cap, lessening the charge in 2022.
The defensive tackle will receive “base salaries of $1.035 million in 2022 and $3.055 million in 2023, along with a $250,000 roster bonus payable on the fifth day of the 2023 league year. Additionally, he has per-game roster bonuses of up to $255,000 in each year of the deal ($15,000 per game), along with a workout bonus of $50,000 both years. He can also make up to $800,000 each season if he reaches incentives for sacks, although the trigger number to hit is not known.”
The Bills are in the Midst of Restructuring LB Matt Milano’s Contract
While veteran center Mitch Morse signed a newly-restructured contract extension on Monday, a deal which gave him a raise while lowering his cap hit, it appears the Bills front office is looking to work some more money magic when it comes linebacker Matt Milano’s deal.
WGR 550 report Sal Capaccio tweeted on Tuesday, “Source: Bills are working on converting most of LB Matt Milano‘s 2022 base salary into a signing bonus, freeing up salary cap space. Exact numbers not known yet. I wrote about this very scenario a few weeks ago and my calculations had this saving over $4M in cap space.”