“Ultimately, the writing was on the wall for the end of Lotulelei’s time with the Bills,” Getzenberg wrote.

She noted that the move will result in $7.7 million in dead cap this year. The Bills could have lowered this number by designating Lotulelei as a post-June 1 release, but they instead decided to take a more immediate cap saving of $1.5 million. Bills general manager Brandon Beane had already warned that the team would need to make some moves to create space, and that was before Miller’s signing.

Lotulelei had missed all of the 2020 season, opting out due to COVID-19, and missed more time last season for a COVID-19 infection and for personal reasons. Beane said it appeared clear that Lotulelei never fully recovered from the infection.

“But when he got COVID, when he came back, it really affected him,” Beane said. “Without getting too deep into the woods, I don’t think he returned to form. And I think he’d be the first to tell you that at what he was playing at earlier in the year. He got better and I thought it improved the two playoff games, but I still don’t think it was as consistent as he was the first part of the season.”

The Bills have made other cap-saving moves this offseason, releasing offensive linemen Jon Feliciano and Daryl Williams along with wide receiver Cole Beasley.

More Help at Defensive Line

The Bills had already seen some changes at defensive line. Harrison Phillips, who largely filled in for Lotulelei during his absence this season, left to join the Minnesota Vikings and the Bills brought in more depth with a pair of other acquisitions. They signed former Carolina Panthers lineman DaQuan Jones, who is seen as a strong run stopper playing largely the same role as both Phillips and Lotulelei. The Bills also agreed to terms with defensive tackle Tim Settle, formerly of the Washington Commander.

Settle’s signing earned some praise from the NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo, who said the Bills got one of the biggest steals of free agency. As Nick Wojton of USA Today’s Bills Wire noted, Settle showed some strong potential in Washington but had difficulty getting snaps in the crowded defensive line rotation, and could have more of a chance to shine with the Bills.

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