Could the Bills be major players in 2025 offseason? Examining future cap space, draft picks


Staff member


The 2024 NFL Draft is done. The Buffalo Bills have what looks like most of their roster for the upcoming season and a depth chart with a few more holes than many have been accustomed to with this team since 2020.

Despite their moves to get younger and cheaper in some areas, they are defiant that this upcoming campaign is not one they’re punting away — not with Josh Allen as their starting quarterback.

To their point, the Bills are alive for a championship push as long as Allen is healthy and in his prime. Turning only 28 later this month, he’s still in the middle of his prime. But to think the Bills aren’t going through a year of transition isn’t a transparent conclusion. On paper, they are worse than they were a year ago. That doesn’t mean they’ll be bad in 2024. But in the NFL, actions trump words.

The Bills could have easily continued to kick the can down the road this offseason with restructures that lead to big future cap charges just to open up more short-term relief in cap space. The New Orleans Saints and the Los Angeles Rams have used this strategy for years.

However, general manager Brandon Beane actively chose to avoid that strategy. Between allowing some mid-tier free agents to walk, cutting veteran players this year, minimizing the number of restructures they did, not using as many void years as they have in the past, and trading away one of their biggest cap hits in this and future seasons, it all points to one conclusion: The Bills are positioning themselves to be major players during the 2025 offseason.

That vision has guided every move Beane has made over the past few months. And with significant resources in tow, they hope another major push toward reaching and winning a Super Bowl for the first time in franchise history is viable.

Actual cap space in 2025​

The last two offseasons have followed a similar refrain. Buffalo needed to clear a bunch of cap space to get cap-compliant before making minimal moves in free agency. The two biggest March contracts they’ve doled out have been to offensive lineman Connor McGovern (currently ranked 24th average per year for guards) and Curtis Samuel (34th for receivers) while backfilling with one-year types, sometimes incurring even more future year dead cap to make it happen.

In 2023, their maneuvering mainly focused on keeping the team in place with a few mid-tier additions. The 2024 offseason focused on clearing space and bringing on as little future cap debt as possible while remaining competitive. These two completely different approaches yielded the same short-term results in their free-agent haul.

The difference is with how they approached 2024 and now the fruits of that strategy. The 2025 offseason is already shaping up to easily provide the Bills with the most cap flexibility since signing Von Miller to a massive contract in the 2022 offseason. It’s pretty rudimentary, but nothing screams that louder than the Bills already being well under next year’s projected salary cap after projecting in the red for the following offseason each of the last two years. And yes, that includes Greg Rousseau’s fifth-year option for 2025, which Over The Cap projects to be just under $13.4 million fully guaranteed.

With a projected $260 million salary cap, Over The Cap has them with $14 million in cap space for 2025 — though that doesn’t factor in multiple things that could improve that figure. First, depending on what the Bills choose to do with the $10.2 million available on June 1 for the Tre’Davious White release, any cap space they don’t spend in 2024 rolls over into 2025. Those added cap funds and their current cap space give them around $12 million — not including the draft picks who have yet to sign. Keeping the 53-man roster in mind, not just the Top 51, those picks will account for a little over $3 million — and that’s if all 53 of their present highest cap hits were to stick on the final roster — which is unlikely. So, figure, for now, the Bills have around $9 million to work with as of June 1.


Buffalo Bills linebacker Von Miller enters his third season with the team in 2024. (Mark Konezny / USA Today)

Second, the Bills have three obvious cap-clearing moves in their pocket for 2025. One move is to cut Miller, who would be heading into his age-36 season. The team would clear a whopping $8.457 million of cap space by cutting him. On top of that, they can do two unmistakable simple restructures to push some cap space forward. The rule of thumb is only doing restructures with players in the prime of their careers that you intend to stay on the roster for the long term. Defensive tackle Ed Oliver and nickel cornerback Taron Johnson are the two players, with Oliver yielding potentially $8.33 million in 2025 cap savings and Johnson $3.156 million. This is all before even bringing up any restructuring to Allen’s contract, which accounts for over $43 million on next year’s cap. An Allen restructure would give them a little under $10 million extra towards 2025, though that would up his cap hits to $67 million in 2026, $60 million in 2027, and $51 million in 2028 and may not be something they want to do at that point.

So, without counting any rollover funds, a potential Allen restructure, or the NFL salary cap being higher than the projected $260 million, those three moves next year would push up the Bills’ 2025 cap space to just under $34 million. For Beane, who has been handcuffed by minimal cap space, that is a significant figure.

Upcoming in-house free agents in 2025​

The Bills’ roster is undoubtedly younger this year than it has been, and they structured it that way. And the last few years have brought bigger-name players from their team due to hit free agency. Many of those upcoming free agents were ones the Bills tried to re-sign. They couldn’t keep everyone, but that’s what happens when you build through the draft. Why is this relevant to the topic? Their potential free agent list is minimal compared to what they’ve gone through over the last three or four years.

The Bills have only two players from their projected starting lineup in 2024 set to become free agents, and you could easily see the Bills moving on from both due to each situation. The first is cornerback Rasul Douglas, who will be in his age-30 season in 2024. The Bills have a much younger potential long-term starting option in Christian Benford, who is signed through 2025. They also want to find out about 2022 first-round pick Kaiir Elam. The Bills could comfortably move on from Douglas if his price tag gets out of hand and move forward with cheaper alternatives in Benford and Elam, or Benford and an earlier draft pick.

The only other upcoming notable free agent is right tackle Spencer Brown, who went from a player many thought the Bills should try to replace during the 2023 offseason to a core starter in 2024. Brown has to prove he can stay healthy and that his impressive second half of 2023 is sustainable for the long term. The Bills aren’t the only ones tracking this. Brown would enter 2025 in his age-27 season, still with many prime years to go, and athletic offensive tackles in their prime tend to do exceptionally well in free agency. A good 2024 could yield $15-20 million APY for Brown. Especially after the Bills just paid Dion Dawkins this past offseason, the idea of paying another offensive tackle for the long term might be getting a little too deep into one spot, especially after it took two years for him to get to that point.

Why is all this important? The Bills could feel little obligation to get either of these players signed for the long term without having in-season information in 2024. They can, and should, pick their spots to keep that potential $34 million-plus used as effectively as possible.

Draft picks in 2025​

The Bills’ projected draft haul next year adds to why they could be significant players next offseason.

They have all of their original picks through the first four rounds. On top of that, they have Minnesota’s 2025 2nd (Stefon Diggs deal), what is likely Chicago’s 2025 4th (draft-day trade for the Bears to select Austin Booker), and a projected fourth-round compensatory pick for Gabe Davis signing elsewhere. That would give the Bills seven picks within the first four rounds and the first 135 overall of the draft.

Even if they get hoodwinked by the compensatory formula again, and the Davis pick lands in the fifth round, seven picks in the first four rounds is more than Beane has ever had to work with in his time as the Bills general manager. The next closest total was four. Whether those could be used to package picks together and move up on draft day or to trade some outright for players around the league, those are a lot of good draft assets to work with next offseason.

2024 is a valuable year of experience and information gathering​

Because they have roster flexibility and offseason ammunition for 2025, the Bills can use 2024 as a year to see what sticks and give their younger players a chance to solve some of their potential needs in 2025. That includes positions like a wide receiver to see if Keon Coleman can be Allen’s No. 1, if Khalil Shakir can step into a more prominent role, or if they need a more substantial piece to complete the room. Can Benford stay on his current trajectory at cornerback? Will Elam make enough strides to start in 2025? How far along can rookie safety Cole Bishop come in his first year? What if Taylor Rapp proves to be more than an average starter?

They also can use the year to figure out who becomes a priority re-sign candidate for their 2026 build and beyond. That includes running back James Cook, Rousseau and A.J. Epenesa at defensive end, linebacker Terrel Bernard, and Benford or Elam at cornerback, all free agents in 2026. Finding out about all of these young players, and the time they’ll get in 2024 that they may not have gotten in previous years arms the Bills with critical information in how they approach the 2025 offseason.

Final Thoughts​

The 2025 season seems like a long way out, with a full slate of games to conduct and rookie minicamp, which usually brings much excitement, kicking into gear late this week. But a bigger picture is at play. As they should, the Bills believe firmly in what they have with their franchise quarterback. But back in 2018, when the Bills made significant changes to help them long-term, they tried not to say aloud what they were doing with their roster until years later. Present day, Beane knew they were on a collision course with a hard rebuild around Allen if they didn’t take the steps they did this offseason.

So yes, the Bills will do their best to make the playoffs and another title push in 2024. But each bit of inconsistency, or some roster holes that become more evident after this one year is, in their mind, for the greater good. It’s one small step back for what they hope turns into multiple years of being offseason players and title contenders. The 2025 assets in cap space and draft picks are unmistakable and coordinated. The Bills are officially in the second iteration of their build around Allen. And while the 2024 season moves forward, keeping what lies ahead in the back of your mind is equally as critical.