Brandon Beane: Bills got a 'raw deal' from NFL in compensatory draft pick process


Staff member

Brandon Beane believes he has a legitimate beef with the NFL.

The Buffalo Bills’ general manager believed his team was in line to receive a third-round compensatory draft pick for the loss of linebacker Tremaine Edmunds in free agency last year. Instead, when those compensatory picks were announced by the league earlier this month, Beane learned along with everyone else that the Bills received a fourth-rounder.

““It did surprise me,” he said Sunday here at the NFL’s annual meetings. “I think us and San Francisco, we got a raw deal. I don’t want to give a full thing, but we had separate Zooms with the league trying to go through how it was calculated, because by even their accounts, as we were checking with them through the year, we clearly had a third-rounder.”

The NFL has never publicly explained the compensatory formula, but it is widely assumed that the formula takes into account a player’s average salary per year, his snap count for the upcoming season and postseason awards.

“So, it’s with all the conversions, the voids and things like that, numbers that aren’t really numbers – San Francisco gave an example of one of their players who was around a 17 APY (average salary per year) was being counted as a 26 APY by the way they did the void with higher cap numbers at the end,” Beane said. “There have been so many of those in recent years with Covid and where the cap was, it fell into it and we missed. It was a major blow because we had planned for it and San Francisco felt the same way.”

Asked if the Bills appealed the league’s decision, Beane said, “We did our best, and they said, ‘No deal.’ ”

The Bills weren’t given a heads-up on the pick they would receive, which ended up being No. 134 overall in the fourth round. Had it been in the third round, it would have fallen somewhere between No. 96 and No. 100 overall – a significant difference.

“We both thought that we should have been awarded a third, and we set up, together, a Zoom,” Beane said of the Bills and 49ers, who received a fourth-round pick instead of a third-rounder for the loss of quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo to the Raiders. “Unfortunately, it was denied.”

In Beane’s first few years on the job, the Bills weren’t in a position to worry much about the compensatory formula. The past couple of seasons, however, it has shaped, at least, part of their plan in free agency.

“Yeah, we definitely try to,” Beane said when asked if the compensatory formula is considered going into free agency. “There's a few of them that it's going to depend on their play time and whether they get honors, or things like that. We weren't able to get as many guys at that $1.77 (million) number – this year was $1.79 million – that we got a year ago. Some of them are going to be right on the cusp. Again, it may depend on how the league counts these this year.

“I think they're going to alter – it's not going to help us or San Francisco – but I think they're going to alter how they're doing that going forward. Which could matter – does a guy that we paid $2.5 (million) or $2.7 (million), do they fall in the formula, or not? I still think we'll at least get one next year, depending on how that falls, maybe two.”

Free agents signed after May 2 no longer count against the compensatory formula.

Beane estimated the Bills have about $6 million to $7 million in space under the salary cap, currently. That number could fluctuate slightly when defensive lineman Austin Johnson’s deal is finalized.

The team will add needed cap space after June 1, when released cornerback Tre’Davious White’s cap hit comes off the books, freeing up more than $10 million in needed space. That will allow the Bills to, if necessary, sign their 2024 draft class (if it hasn’t been done yet), budget for their practice squad (which Beane put the cost between $3 million and $3.5 million) and otherwise have the space needed when inevitable injury replacements are needed.