Bills roster reset: Where Buffalo stands with cap space and what other needs remain

Bills roster reset: Where Buffalo stands with cap space and what other needs remain

The 2024 offseason has been muted for team additions, by the Buffalo Bills’ usual standards. They wanted to help their year-over-year cap debt and decided to take advantage of having players in or nearing their 30s with high cap numbers to help their future.

The Bills still made some moves, mainly in the form of re-signings, hoping the mini-reset they enacted could bring another playoff appearance in 2024. Where do things stand as free agency is winding down?

Here is a full-scale roster reset, looking at where Buffalo still has needs, what’s to come and where things stand as of mid-March.

Where are they with cap space?

This has been a popular question since the offseason began and the Bills began making all their moves, but the answer wasn’t possible without a huge caveat. Why? There were too many variables as all the moves rolled in, and pertinent information about the 2024 salary cap was needed with anywhere from three to sometimes six or seven deals. As free agency has slowed and the league has posted contract details, we now have an accurate picture.

At the moment, only one significant deal that we don’t have the 2024 details on yet is floating out there, and that’s the Taron Johnson contract extension. Without that deal, the Bills have a little under $7 million in cap space on their Top 51 by my calculations, with some contract details mixed in from Over the Cap. It is likely to be more than $7 million with Johnson’s new extension, too. Under general manager Brandon Beane, the Bills have made a habit out of securing short-term savings on the current year cap hit when signing a player who still has a year left on their deal to an extension. The Johnson cap hit was $12.41 million untouched, and it would not be a surprise if that number goes down by at least $2 million or $3 million. The Ty Johnson re-signing also hasn’t been identified yet, and neither has the Casey Toohill deal, but those likely will not take away much cap space from their Top 51, as the lowest deals to replace are around the $920,000 area.

The Bills’ cap space does not account for the room needed for the rookie NFL Draft class, which, as their Top 51 is currently constructed, would only be about $2.3 million taken off. But until those contracts are signed, they don’t count to their cap hit. Buffalo has a windfall of cap space heading its way on June 1 when the Tre’Davious White release is finalized, and the Bills could conceivably wait to sign their draft choices until then. So, the need to account for the cap hits of draft picks right now is less necessary this year than in other years.

WR remains a screaming draft need

The Bills freshened up their wide receivers by signing Curtis Samuel and Mack Hollins, but even with two new faces, the work is not over. Samuel comes in as a top-four receiver and a potential option out of the backfield. But as a receiver, his best positions are at slot or Z. Gabe Davis, who signed with the Jacksonville Jaguars, played neither of those roles last year. Hollins is a fit for the Davis role, but as a long-term fringe starter and special teams player throughout his career, he’s likely there just as an insurance starting option. The contract given to Hollins also indicates that. It’s only a one-year commitment for $2.48 million, with only $1.1 million guaranteed at signing. That leaves the Bills with options but still a big void in their top four, particularly in the starting lineup.

In a deep draft class, the Bills indeed have options. They should be able to find a good prospect who fits the X-receiver role at some point. But if they want to take a big swing, setting them up with someone who could eventually become their top receiver after Stefon Diggs moves on in the next one to four years, it’s beginning to look like they can’t wait around. The top four prospects — Marvin Harrison Jr., Malik Nabers, Rome Odunze and Brian Thomas Jr. — would be excellent fits for the Bills’ system. The first two are likely top 10 locks, and Odunze might also go that early. And with Thomas Jr.’s ascending skill set, he could be gone before pick No. 20.

There seems to be a drop-off after Thomas Jr., putting into question whether the value of pick No. 28 would meet the need at receiver without him as an option. The one thing no one should rule out this year, especially as the Bills have 11 selections and likely some additional cap space to work with for 2025, is a big move up the board for one of those top receivers. It might cost them some kind of 2025 draft pick to do it, but for a potential No. 1 receiver for Josh Allen through the quarterback’s Bills career, there is a compelling case that it’s worth it.

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