Bills Urged to Cut $18 Million Defensive Tackle in 2022

Star Lotulelei

Getty Star Lotulelei #98 of the Buffalo Bills tackles Le'Veon Bell #26 of the New York Jets during the first quarter of an NFL game at New Era Field on December 29, 2019 in Orchard Park, New York.

The Buffalo Bills have a lot of tough decisions heading into the 2022 NFL season, especially because the franchise is just $3 million under the projected $208 million cap, according to Sportrac.com.

Bills general manager Brandon Beane spoke about the team’s tight budget during his end-of-season press conference earlier this week. “There may be some guys on this team that I want to keep, but I can’t keep them all,” Beane said. “We now have paid Josh [Allen] — which is good. Because I know what his number is on the books for the upcoming years and we can just build around it.”

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“We’ll still have to make some moves, but I wouldn’t see us being like, big spenders or anything like that, but we’ll look to fill some spots from the outside as well as retain some of our guys.”

As Beane noted, with Allen’s monster extension kicking in next season, his cap hit jumps from $10.2 million to $16.4 million in 2022, it will only become more difficult for the team to retain their top players.

In looking for ways to create more cap space, one player’s name keeps popping up, Star Lotulelei. The former first-round pick from the 2013 NFL Draft, initially signed a five-year $50 million contract with the Bills in 2018, which was then restructured into a three-year $18.6 million after he chose to opt-out of the 2020 NFL season due to COVID-19 concerns.

If the Bills release Lotulelei, they can save about $4.25 million, and if they can trade him, Buffalo can recoup $6.8 million, per Buffalo Fanatics.


Bills GM Brandon Made Interesting Comments About Lotulelei During His End-of-Season Presser

star lotulelei

GettyBuffalo Bills defensive tackle Star Lotulelei revealed an all-new look during his return to practice on Thursday, December 2, 2021.

Beane made some interesting comments about Lotulelei during his annual end-of-season press conference. Beane said that the defensive tackle “was never the same” after he contracted COVID-19 in November, and was unable to get back to his “disruptive” level play.

Ending the season on a low note doesn’t bode well for the Utah alum, especially when he has such a high price tag. Prior to the start of the 2021 NFL season, Bleacher Report‘s Kristopher Knox dubbed Lotulelei as the team’s “Most Overpaid Player,” encouraging Buffalo to release him as soon as they could.

“In his two seasons with the Buffalo Bills, Lotulelei has strictly been a rotational player. He has played fewer than 50% of the defensive snaps in each campaign and has rarely provided impact plays.

“Fortunately, the Bills aren’t tied to Lotulelei beyond the 2022 season. While he’s set to carry a cap hit of $9 million in 2023, Lotulelei will have no dead money left on his contract.”

During the 2021 NFL season, Lotulelei played an average of 47% of the team’s snaps, per SB Nation‘s Matt Warren. However, two weeks after returning for his bout with COVID-19, his participation dropped to 29% of the snaps against the Carolina Panthers.

During the Bills’ overtime playoff loss to the Chiefs, he participated in 43% of the snaps. Over the 2021 NFL season, Lotulelei recorded a total of three sacks. He recorded one postseason sack against the New England Patriots.


The Athletic Suggests the Bills Waive Lotulelei to Re-Sign Harrison Phillips Instead

Harrison Phillips

GettyHarrison Phillips #99 of the Buffalo Bills celebrates recovering a fumble by Atlanta Falcons in the first quarter of the game at Highmark Stadium on January 02, 2022 in Orchard Park, New York.

Following Bean’s presser, The Athletic‘s Joe Buscaglia also encouraged the Bills to move on from 32-year-old defensive lineman in order to create more cap space in 2022, urging Buffalo to use that extra cash flow to re-sign defensive tackle Harrison Phillips instead.

“Lotulelei is signed through 2023 and has a cap hit of nearly $10 million next season, but this will be the first time the Bills can get out from the contract and save a legitimate amount of cap space,” Buscaglia wrote.

“If the Bills release Lotulelei, they can save a little over $4 million, according to Over The Cap. They could use that cap space to re-sign Phillips, who was excellent in the second half of the season. Beane expressed the desire to re-sign Phillips, but it doesn’t sound like he’s willing to go overboard.

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erik_vornoff
erik_vornoff
9 months ago

Star is a big run-stuffer but he takes too much time off. You can’t count on him.

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