You know that feeling of excited disbelief when Ed Oliver fell in our laps at pick 9 last year, or looking back on what an amazing value Jordan Poyer and Quinton Spain’s contracts were? What if we had an entire offseason where every move fell just right for the Bills? Well, get your rose-colored glasses on because we’re gonna have some fun.
Now, I’m not going to have Chase Young fall to pick 22 with Jerry Jeudy as a 3rd round pick, or Amari Cooper and Chris Jones signing with Buffalo for $2M each. Every move, signing, trade, and draft pick will be within the realm of possibility, even if a bit fortunate or from the mind of a 14-year-old playing Madden.
First, let’s lay out some ground rules:
- This assumes the new CBA is agreed to and there is no “Final League Year” nonsense like the 30% rule
- We’re playing a little fast and loose with the locker room culture and “veteran in every room” philosophy
- We’re going to spend every dollar of cap space, while Brandon Beane rightfully will be planning more long-term
- We will be using Spotrac.com’s Free Agent Market Values as a contract baseline, so don’t yell at me about price tags
- I will only be using draft picks that I have seen fall on The Draft Network Mock Draft Machine to a Bills draft slot
- There are a few Combine heroes that may have skyrocketed past my value draft slot, but this is my dream and you’re not the boss of me
With that being said, let’s have some fun.
First, we need a starting point of the existing Buffalo Bills roster. This shows our 53 players currently under contract, plus the obvious Exclusive Rights Free Agents we can retain at the minimum contract level: Levi Wallace, Robert Foster, Jason Croom. We also have retained Restricted Free Agent Isaiah McKenzie at the original round tender, which for him is the 5th round, which costs $2.144M.
This puts our starting point for Salary Cap space at $81.446M.
Create Cap Space:
Before we get to spending money, let’s create a little more wiggle room. This might be painful, so brace yourselves for the initial roster purge (dead cap & cap Savings calculations from Spotrac.com).
Release DE Trent Murphy – Net $8.025M Savings – Updated Cap $89.471M
This obviously creates another hole at DE, but we’ll get to that in a bit. He hasn’t lived up to his contract and can be upgraded.
Release TE Tyler Kroft – Net $6.05M Savings – Updated Cap $95.521M
It’s a shame he didn’t get a chance to get healthy. I fully expect Beane and McDermott to at least give him a full training camp to see what he can do to build chemistry with Josh, but in this exercise, we need those dollars.
Do not exercise team option on G Spencer Long – Net $3.425M Savings – Updated Cap $98.946M
Long is a bit of a luxury depth item. I think he stepped in admirably as needed, but $4M is a lot for an interior backup.
Release TE Lee Smith – Net $3.25M Savings – Updated Cap $102.196M
Veteran leader, tough-nosed blocker. We’re taking a big leap of faith that Tommy Sweeney is ready to step up into that role.
Release FB Patrick DiMarco – Net $1.85M Savings – Updated Cap $104.046M
Special teams contributor, but we’ll go searching for a fullback who can be more of a weapon when called upon.
Release WR Andre Roberts – Net $1.5M Savings – Updated Cap $105.546M
Stellar veteran returner who we can trust to maximize available yardage and secure the ball. Getting dual-utilization from a WR would be ideal for this spot.
Release RB TJ Yeldon – Net $1.65M Savings – Updated Cap $107.196M
Still has some receiving ability, and isn’t terribly expensive, but we’ll be looking for a bigger threat carrying the ball.
Any other players that do or do not make the roster moving forward won’t move the needle from a salary cap standpoint because they’d need to be replaced by another roster player, or are already making the minimum (e.g. Davis Webb, Vincent Taylor, Ryan Bates).