A closer look at how Brandon Beane can create $60 million in cap space for Bills


Staff member

The process of putting more player spending on the NFL salary cap’s figurative “credit card” should give the Buffalo Bills the chance to have another productive offseason of player acquisition.

Just like last offseason, Bills General Manager Brandon Beane is busy restructuring contracts and pushing money into the future to create enough cap space to do business this month.

The Bills stood $44.9 million over the leaguewide salary cap of $255.4 million as of last week, according to the sports financial website Spotrac.
They could wind up with $20 million in space by the time free agency starts on March 13, thanks to restructuring of contracts and player moves.

Most of the restructuring involves pushing money into the future, and the easiest move Beane will make to create space is adjusting the contract of quarterback Josh Allen.

Allen is due to make a base salary of $23.5 million in 2024 and get a $5 million roster bonus. The Bills will convert most of that to bonus money, which can be spread out over the life of the contract. Allen is signed for five more years, through 2028. That will save $22.7 million against the cap this year, dropping his cap number from $47 million to $24.3 million.

The Bills did a similar thing last year. After the restructuring, Allen’s cap number for 2025 will rise to about $61 million, and it will be about $50 million for 2026.

Beane was asked this week at the NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis whether there was an end to pushing Allen’s cap charges into the future. Might they just bite the bullet and absorb all of Allen’s cap charge in 2025? It didn’t sound like it.

“You tell me the cap will jump $40 million next year, maybe,” Beane said. “But I don’t believe that’s what the league anticipates. So it kind of all depends on where we end up. What guys do we extend this year? What do we add onto the books? I would love to skip a year of doing that. That would obviously help us. But I don’t know how practical that would be.”

Eventually, after the 2025 or 2026 season, the Bills will have to give Allen a pay raise and a contract extension. They’ll worry about his future cap charges then.

“The quarterback numbers have jumped more drastically than the cap has,” Beane said. “We feel fortunate to have Josh, but you’re building your whole team around that contract, and you’re trying to massage it. So that’ll continue to be something we have to look at. The numbers continue to rise drastically, and it’s probably not going to slow down. So I’m sure at some point we’ll have to look at that from Josh’s standpoint.”

Last year, Beane was $20 million over the cap in February. Yet the Bills signed 10 free agents between March and June who played in games, most on lower-cost, one-year contracts. The Bills also retained nine of their own free agents who played in games, also most on low-cost deals.

Like last year, the Bills aren’t going to spend for big fish in free agency. But they likely will target a bunch of modest-cost veterans.

Here’s a review of the many other salary-cap levers Beane has at his disposal, along with potential cap reduction. There are so many options Beane could choose, the reduction totals (after Allen) are rough estimates.

Allen renegotiation savings: $22.7 million.

Extension candidates​

  • Dion Dawkins. The veteran tackle is entering the last year of his contract and coming off his best season. He has a cap hit of $16.6 million for 2024. The Bills could drop that by about $5 million with an extension. Spotrac projects a three-year extension that would push him from 26th to ninth on the tackle average annual salary ranking.
  • Taron Johnson. The veteran slot cornerback earned his first All-Pro honor in 2023. He is entering the last year of his contract, and he is one of the cornerstones of the Bills’ defense. He is still only 27. He has a $12.4 million cap hit. An extension could drop his cap hit by roughly $4 million.
  • Rasul Douglas. The veteran cornerback is entering the last year of his contract signed with Green Bay, which has a cap hit of $9.9 million this year. The Bills could lower it by extending him, but this is far from a likely move. It is probably smart to stand pat on Douglas until the Bills see what happens in the draft and free agency.
Ballpark savings: $9 million.

Tre White contract​

The 29-year-old cornerback is recovering from a torn Achilles after returning from major knee surgery in 2022. His cap hit is $16.4 million for 2024, and he has two years left on his deal. The Bills owe him a $1.5 million roster bonus on March 18.

The Bills would save about $8 million in 2024 if they released him with a failed physical designation in March. A flat-out release seems unlikely, given the high regard Beane and coach Sean McDermott have for White.

The Bills could save $3.7 million just by restructuring White’s deal. They could save more – maybe $6 million – if they could get him to renegotiate the deal.

Ballpark savings: $3.7 million.

Restructure or release candidates​

  • Guard Connor McGovern’s contract already was restructured to create $3.74 million in cap space.
  • Mitch Morse. The Bills could save $8.47 million by releasing Morse, who has a cap hit of $11.47 million. They could try to negotiate a pay cut. They also could convert his base salary to bonus, spread it out over future “void” years in his contract and save about $5 million.
  • Deonte Harty. His big return helped the Bills clinch the No. 2 seed in Miami. But the Bills could save $4.19 million by releasing him. He’s due a $500,000 roster bonus on March 18. A contract alteration is a possibility.
  • Nyhiem Hines. He missed all of 2023 due to a jet ski accident. The Bills could save $4.6 million by releasing him. He’s due a $500,000 roster bonus on March 18.
  • Siran Neal. Releasing him would save $2.8 million. Restructuring could save $1.1 million.
  • Dawson Knox. He’s due a $5 million roster bonus on March 17. Spreading it out would save $4 million. Some form of a pay cut isn’t out of the question, either. A more optimal time to release Knox would come after the 2024 season.
  • Jordan Poyer. The Bills could save $2.8 million by spreading out the safety’s base salary into future years.
  • Ryan Bates. His situation will be impacted by the Bills’ decision on Morse. The team could restructure his deal and save $1.1 million, or restructure and extend and save perhaps $2.5 million. If they released Bates, they would save $4 million'
Ballpark savings: $24 million.

Stand pat candidates?​

The fact the NFL salary cap increased by such a large degree – by more than $30 million from last year – allows the Bills to push a little less money into the future than they might have been forced to do.

That may allow them to stand pat with Stefon Diggs and Von Miller.

By far, the optimal time for the Bills to part ways with Diggs is after the 2024 season. It is not impossible to part ways with him this spring, but it would be very painful on the cap, costing $31 million in dead money ($8.8 million this year and $22.2 million in 2025). Yes, the Bills would save $19 million, compared with Diggs’ current cap charge of $27.8 million. But that giant cap hit in 2025 is unpalatable.

The Bills could save $13.2 million against the cap this year by restructuring his contract and spreading money over the last four years of his deal. That would drop his cap hit from $27.8 million to $14.6 million. However, if the plan is to part with him after 2024, it might be wise not to push more of his money into the future.

Ditto for Miller. The Bills could restructure his deal and save $12 million. But the optimal time to release Miller is after 2024. He would count only $6.3 million in 2025 if he’s off the team.