Bills Breakout RB Named Most ‘Realistic’ Cap Casualty for 2023: Analyst

Nyheim Hines

Getty Nyheim Hines #20 of the Buffalo Bills scores a touchdown against the Miami Dolphins at Highmark Stadium on December 17, 2022.

While the NFL revealed the salary cap for the 2023 NFL season would be a record $224.8 million per team, the Buffalo Bills general manager Brandon Beane still faces an uphill battle to get the team back in the black. According to, the Bills have $248 million on the books for next year, which means approximately $24 million of salary needs to disappear.

While the Bills can free up a good amount of money by restructuring the supersized contracts of quarterback Josh Allen, wide receiver Stefon Diggs, and edge rusher Von Miller, there will still be a few players who simply become cap casualties as Buffalo looks to retain key starters on expiring contracts.

After assessing the Bills’ financial state, The Athletic‘s Joe Buscaglia deemed an unexpected player as the top, most “realistic” cap causality candidate, running back Nyheim Hines. While the 26-year-old was sparingly used on offense, his breakout two kickoff return touchdowns against the New England Patriots proved he can be a key factor on special teams, too.

It’s not a lack of talent making Hines the top cap casualty, but his contract. Because Hines’ deal doesn’t come with any guaranteed money following the conclusion of the 2022 NFL season, the Bills can release him without any dead money on the books.

“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.”

Hines Strongly Insinuated on Twitter That He’d Be Back Next Season

Nyehim Hines

GettyNyheim Hines #20 of the Buffalo Bills celebrates after Buffalo’s 35-23 win against the New England Patriots at Highmark Stadium on January 08, 2023.

While several pending free agents such as Cole Beasley and restricted free agent Tyrel Dodson have posted heartfelt messages of thanks to Bills Mafia following the conclusion of the season as their future in Buffalo remains unclear, Hines still has two years left on the three-year $18.6 million deal he signed with the Indianapolis Colts before he was traded.

Hines tweeted on January 24, “All love #BillsMafia thanks for the amazing support through it all. We will come back stronger ❤️🙏🏽.”

The former fourth-round pick from the 2018 NFL Draft seems confident he’ll be back in Buffalo, despite having a total of 13 touches on offense in 11 game appearances. Beane also insinuated Hines would be back during his end-of-year press conference, “We added Nyheim in season. In which, it was to help our offense, as well, another weapon for Josh and also give us a weapon on special teams. I think Nyheim will be a guy in particular, having an offseason to learn.”

Head coach Sean McDermott also mentioned Hines during his final press conference. “It’s something that I thought we could have done a better job with,” he said of Hines’ usage.

Isaiah McKenzie & Tim Settle Were Also Named as Top Cap Casualty Candidates

Isaiah McKenzie

GettyIsaiah McKenzie #6 of the Buffalo Bills warms up prior to a game against the Miami Dolphins at Highmark Stadium on December 17, 2022 in Orchard Park, New York

In addition Hines, The Athletic also named wide receiver Isaiah McKenzie and defensive tackle Tim Settle as top candidates to become cap casualties. If the Bills cut McKenzie, they would save $2.62 million in 2023, but because “Lil Dirty” is such a beloved teammate, his salary may be worth keeping.

Buscaglia surmised, “The wide receivers group came under fire last year for their overall inconsistency and could be a significant focus of the Bills’ offseason additions. McKenzie was part of the issue, as his lack of an impact pushed the Bills to sign veterans Cole Beasley and John Brown to the practice squad. McKenzie also had his returner role taken away, giving him less of a hold on a 2023 roster spot. However, he is a ‘glue guy’ for the locker room. Keeping players with that distinction is important to coach Sean McDermott. The Bills will have to decide whether that’s worth nearly $3 million in savings.”

As for Settle, Buffalo can free up another $2.25 million with his release, which may seem like an easy decision considering his underwhelming performance this past season. In 15 game appearances, he totaled 11 solo tackles, one sack, and one forced fumble. When the 25-year-old tackle was given the start against the Bengals in the AFC Divisional Playoff game, he recorded one solo tackle. However, Buscaglia notes the Bills need to figure out if they can afford to find a better replacement first.

“The Bills hoped Settle would round out the rotation in an attacking role, but watched some uneven results from their rotational defensive tackle… With defensive tackles Eli Ankou and Brandin Bryant, two players the team likes, on futures deals, the Bills might have enough reason to move on this offseason. However, with Jordan Phillips’ becoming a free agent, they might want to hang on to Settle to get by in 2023.”

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