Buffalo Bills offseason: A 15-step plan to escape salary cap woes for 2024 and beyond


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The 2023 season is over for the Buffalo Bills and although two teams remain on the Super Bowl quest, general manager Brandon Beane is likely knee-deep in offseason preparations. And Beane certainly has his work cut out for him.

The Bills have 54 players under contract for the 2024 season, but because of all of their spending and pushing money forward, they have one of the most significant cap deficits in the NFL this offseason. According to OverTheCap.com, which uses a 2024 base salary cap projection of $242 million, the Bills are currently $50.6 million over that limit.

The Bills have faced years where they’ve been in some cap trouble to begin the offseason, but never this much with so few players signed to the active roster. And with an aging roster making up some of the biggest cap hits, some slam dunk restructures have serious future cap ramifications.

Beane has said the credit card bill eventually comes due when it comes to moving money to future years and this offseason, the Bills may be forced to take their medicine a bit. If done correctly, they’d hope the youth of their roster and draft picks this year help propel them forward, attempting to win in 2024 with the veteran players they still have and conceivably putting their cap sheet is in a better spot for 2025.

They can try to attack the projected $50.6 million in cap debt in many ways, but what is the most realistic? And what actions put them in a better spot for the 2025 salary cap?

Here is a 15-step plan for how the Bills get cap-compliant, find breathing room to make a few moves this offseason and put themselves in better cap positioning for 2025 and beyond.

Step 1: Restructure QB Josh Allen’s contract​

Some of these moves are choices, but this one is involuntary. Allen has a $47.1 million cap hit, is signed for the next five seasons and the Bills likely are intent on having him a part of their organization through the life of the contract. There are no thoughts of moving on from him anytime soon, which makes it a contract to target for a restructure. The Bills can convert all but the veteran minimum of his $23.5 million base salary, along with his $6 million roster bonus into a prorated signing bonus and nearly chop the cap deficit in half.

2024 cap savings with the move: $22.63 million
Running log of cap space after the move: -$27.97 million

Step 2: Don’t restructure WR Stefon Diggs

This is more about keeping their options open after this season than thinking Diggs could be moved on from ahead of 2024. Diggs has the second-most fruitful restructure potential on the roster next to Allen, which could yield almost $13 million in savings. However, it’s a complicated situation. Beane spoke like someone who believes in Diggs on their roster as Allen’s No. 1 wide receiver. And you can still see the talent on film from Diggs with how he gets open when given the opportunity to do more than a simple short-yardage route. But Diggs will be 31 next offseason and restructuring his deal basically guarantees he’s on the roster in 2025 as well, when he turns 32 during the season. If they restructured his deal this year for savings, the Bills would have to add nearly $8 million to Diggs’ already $27.3 million cap hit in 2025 to move on next offseason. His age alone should give pause, and there may be a recipe for internal combustibility if the Bills take a step back next year. The Bills may do the restructuring anyway and target 2026 as their “out year” with Diggs, but it may be best for their 2025 cap health to avoid it if they can.

Step 3: Don’t restructure DE Von Miller

While there is at least a case for the Bills to still restructure Diggs’ deal, there isn’t a compelling argument to do so for Miller. Like Diggs, restructuring Miller’s deal could yield nearly $12 million in cap space this year, but the Bills would be signing up for another year on a massive cap hit for a player in his age-36 season in 2025 — and that’s not even factoring in his non-existent production this past season. Miller likely is going to be back with the Bills in 2024 by default of having a massive cap hit, massive dead cap and an empty defensive end room. But in the 2025 offseason, if the Bills keep Miller’s contract as is, they could save $8.5 million on that year’s cap. The Bills should preserve that no matter what this offseason because it can help their cap be far healthier in 2025 and beyond.

Step 4: Restructure CB Tre’Davious White with a non-guaranteed extension​

The decision with White is one of the most complex the Bills have this offseason. White is coming back from a torn Achilles without a timetable for return — his second long-term injury in three seasons. They also have a strong relationship with White and believe in him when he’s healthy enough to play. But if they were to release White, they could save over $6 million on this year’s cap. Beane said after the season their focus was to get White healthy and then go from there, but without clear knowledge when White will be healthy, it’s tough for the Bills to make that call when free agency rolls around. And just to make it even more difficult, White is due a $1.5 million roster bonus a few days after the start of the new league year in March. My solution is to get the best of both worlds. The Bills could sign White to a contract extension, but not a typical one. It would turn his 2024 base salary and roster bonus into a fully guaranteed signing bonus, with the Bills adding a pair of fully non-guaranteed years through 2027 for proration purposes. The move would yield over $7 million in savings, give White the incentive to push forward past the injury, keep White on the roster rather than having to fill another spot and it maintains positive cap savings ($5.2 million) if they moved on in 2025. Doing it this way actually saves the Bills more in 2024 than if they were to just flat-out release him with a pre-June 1 designation.

2024 cap savings with the move: $7.39 million
Running log of cap space after the move: -$20.58 million

Step 5: Restructure CB Rasul Douglas, work toward extension​

When the Bills acquired Douglas via trade, he already had three void years on his deal but because of the trade, none of that prorated amount followed him to Buffalo’s cap sheet. Douglas is a free agent after 2024, so using the three void years they could reduce his cap hit by over $6 million. And with the Tre’Davious White uncertainty moving forward, it would be in their best interest to get Douglas signed to a multi-year extension. Although an extension might eat into the $6 million in savings a bit, they could work to minimize it by utilizing a fully guaranteed roster bonus for the 2025 season, which they can prorate into future years of the deal. Either way, they’ll get the short-term impact of the cap space while working toward a longer relationship. Douglas turns 29 in August and was one of the best defenders on the field for the Bills when fully healthy.

2024 cap savings with the move: $6.03 million
Running log of cap space after the move: -$-14.55 million

Step 6: Restructure TE Dawson Knox

Knox has one of those contracts with a ton of guaranteed money in 2024, and given his importance to Allen as a receiving option and blocker on offense, they’ll likely want him to remain on the roster in 2025 as well. Knox is still only 27 years old and restructuring his deal saves nearly $6 million on this year’s salary cap, while maintaining positive cap space gained in 2025 if they truly wanted to move on next offseason. His $14.3 million cap hit in 2024, with that profile, cannot remain as is when they have that much cap space to clear.

2024 cap savings with the move: $5.86 million
Running log of cap space after the move: -$8.70 million

Step 7: Add three void years, restructure C Mitch Morse and sign a one-year extension​

The Bills don’t love adding void years and prefer to stay away from it as much as possible. But sometimes there are opportunities to utilize it in a beneficial way and Morse is one of them. There is some precedence here with an aging player heading into his final year, as the Bills did the same with Micah Hyde to get some cap savings. The Morse amount added to 2025 wouldn’t be so overwhelming that it puts them in a bad spot and would provide them a nice boost to their cap space in 2024. And with Morse still playing at a high level, there could be incentive to shrink the potential 2025 cap hit from the added void years by agreeing to a one-year contract extension and still taking advantage of subsequent void years added through 2027.

2024 cap savings with the move: $5.01 million
Running log of cap space after the move: -$-3.69 million

Step 8: Restructure LG Connor McGovern

McGovern proved his worth in his first year with the Bills, helping solidify the offensive line and showing some excellent pass-blocking skills. It was a successful free agent signing by Beane, and on a three-year deal already with a void year in place, the Bills have the flexibility to turn most of McGovern’s $5.8 million base salary into a signing bonus while still having a positive cap savings in 2025 if they need to move on. An easy move here.

2024 cap savings with the move: $3.12 million
Running log of cap space after the move: -$570K

Step 9: RB Nyheim Hines pay cut​

Hines will be coming off a season-ending injury, but Beane said the running back is in their plans in 2024. But his salary is a bit of an albatross, considering the injury and his role on the team before the injury. Hines took a pay cut last offseason to remain with the team, and it would be fair to expect something similar this year. Hines’ current $5.16 million cap hit cannot stay as is if he’ll be on the team next year — especially since the Bills could save $4.6 million to flat-out cut him.

2024 cap savings with the move: $2.5 million
Running log of cap space after the move: $1.93 million

Step 10: Restructure LB Matt Milano

Even though Milano is coming off a significant injury, he has a lower base salary ($4.125 million), three years left on his deal and a void year already attached. That spreads the base salary conversion to a signing bonus over four years, and since Milano already isn’t going anywhere in 2025 because of his contract, the Bills get a good amount of cap space while only adding only $729K to the 2025 salary cap.

2024 cap savings with the move: $2.19 million
Running log of cap space after the move: $4.12 million

Step 11: Restructure IOL Ryan Bates

Despite not starting a game last year, Bates is on an excellent and manageable contract as their top reserve interior lineman moving forward. He has two years remaining on his contract, with two void years already on from a previous restructure. Turning most of his $3.4 million base salary into a prorated signing bonus only adds $694K to their 2025 salary cap.

2024 cap savings with the move: $2.08 million
Running log of cap space after the move: $6.20 million

Step 12: Add one void year and restructure S Jordan Poyer

The Bills likely won’t want to change out both of their starting safeties in 2024, so using Poyer as a bridge player for one year makes sense. Still, by adding only one void year and converting Poyer’s signing bonus, it gives them a decent amount of 2024 cap savings and only pushes $1.77 million into the 2025 cap.

2024 cap savings with the move: $1.765 million
Running log of cap space after the move: $7.96 million

Step 13: WR Deonte Harty pay cut​

Although the Bills could save over $4 million to cut Harty, the Bills are clearly in cap trouble and lack receivers for their 53-man roster. The Bills have only Diggs, Khalil Shakir and Harty under contract for 2024, with some others on reserve/futures deals. Beane likely remains a firm believer in Harty’s talent, and he’s the type of receiver offensive coordinator Joe Brady might be able to use more effectively and creatively when he has a full offseason to scheme. A pay cut brings Harty back with the promise of a guaranteed base salary.

2024 cap savings with the move: $1.5 million
Running log of cap space after the move: $9.46 million

Step 14: Extend NCB Taron Johnson

With only one year left on his contract, his overall impact to the team and still only 27 year old, the Bills should make a Johnson extension a priority this offseason. Johnson currently has a $12.41 million cap hit with a $6.45 million base salary, which means there is room for 2024 cap savings through an extension. The Bills have often given themselves some short-term cap savings with a long-term extension in past dealings, so they could likely add $2 to $5 million to their bank, depending on the structure.

Step 15: Extend LT Dion Dawkins

Dawkins turns 30 in April and is only signed through 2024, but is someone worth trying to extend through his age-32 season in 2026 with his play this past season — which would also do away with those two void years already in his deal. The cap pushed to those void years won’t disappear, but at least the Bills wouldn’t be without the player plus a $5.4 million cap charge in 2025. Plus, Dawkins has a $16.61 million cap hit with a $9.3 million base salary, giving ample room for some 2024 cap relief.

End Result​

In total, with all these moves, the Bills would give themselves somewhere between $10-$20 million in cap space (depending on the extensions), they push forward $32 million to 2025, and based on their cap sheet in 2025, could be around even with the projected 2025 cap without factoring in any new money given out for extensions, free agents or upcoming draft picks. But they will still be able to compete in 2024, with a much healthier 2025 cap situation that can help them avoid pushing a lot of money forward in future years.