Bills salary cap situation is worst in NFL. Here's why and what could be done.

Once the New Orleans Saints performed a little surgery on their salary cap last week, it put the Buffalo Bills into an unenviable spot: No. 1 on the NFL salary cap hell list.

According to sports contract website, even after the NFL announced a record salary cap ceiling of $255.4 million, the Bills are approximately $41.3 million over that figure. They are about $5 million beyond the Saints and a staggering $137 million beyond the Washington Commanders who have a league-high $96 million to spare.

The only other teams besides the Bills and Saints ($36.4 million) who are currently over the cap are the Dolphins ($24.6 million), the Chargers ($20.8 million), the Broncos ($13 million), the Browns ($7.7 million) and the Cowboys ($3.2 million).

Buffalo general manager Brandon Beane will be speaking to reporters Tuesday in Indianapolis at the NFL Scouting Combine, but when he last met with the media two days after the Bills’ playoff loss to the Chiefs, he obviously knew the challenges that lay ahead.

“We will work around it,” Beane said. “We’re not planning to take a year off and just not be competitive. Will we be younger in some areas? Yes. Will we have to rely on draft picks? Yes. But I’m not laying my head down tonight going ‘We don’t have a shot at it next year.’”

When the league announced the cap, many team executives had smiles on their faces because most of the projections had been pegged in the $242 million range, so having more than $13 million in additional space helps everyone.

Why the Buffalo Bills are so far over the salary cap

With the Bills way over the salary cap, Brandon Beane may have a tough decision to make on cornerback Tre'Davious White.
With the Bills way over the salary cap, Brandon Beane may have a tough decision to make on cornerback Tre'Davious White.

Still, the salary cap is particularly constrictive for teams like the Bills who are paying tens of millions to franchise quarterbacks. However, besides Josh Allen and his untenable $47 million cap hit this season, the Bills have 10 other players who right now count more than $9 million.

They are Stefon Diggs ($27.8 million), Von Miller ($23.7 million), Dion Dawkins ($16.6 million), Tre’Davious White ($16.4 million), Dawson Knox ($14.3 million), Matt Milano ($12.4 million), Taron Johnson ($12.4 million), Mitch Morse ($11.4 million), Ed Oliver ($9.7 million) and Rasul Douglas ($9 million).

The Bills have to be under the $255.4 million ceiling by 4 p.m. on March 13, the start of the 2024 league year. So while Beane, coach Sean McDermott, other coaches and personnel men are gathering information about potential draft picks this week, the business gurus back at One Bills Drive will be running financial models to figure out the best way to make that happen.

“We’re gonna have to be creative with the cap,” Beane said.

And you must remember, not only do the Bills need to trim that $41.3 million to get compliant with league rules, they’re going to need much more if they hope to sign any of their own impending free agents, bring in players from elsewhere, plus leave enough of a pool to sign their draft picks, of which they may have as many as 10.

How the Buffalo Bills could make space in salary cap

Buffalo Bills wide receiver Deonte Harty could be a casualty of the Bills salary cap situation.
Buffalo Bills wide receiver Deonte Harty could be a casualty of the Bills salary cap situation.

The Bills will gain a huge chunk of relief by re-working Allen’s contract. His cap hit will be cut in half - down to about $24 million - by converting almost all of his $23.5 million base salary into a bonus which can then be spread out in the coming years. They could also do restructures with Dawkins, White, Morse, and Johnson to free up space.

The most difficult decisions will be the inevitable cutting of players and among those who would provide the most space are Morse ($8.4 million), White ($6 million), Jordan Poyer ($5.4 million), Deonte Harty ($4.2 million), Nyheim Hines ($4.9 million), Siran Neal ($2.9 million), Reggie Gilliam ($1.9 million), and Sam Martin ($1.2 million).

Beane already hinted at the spending struggles he will have when he starts scouring the free agent market, and he warned that the big names that will be available will, in all likelihood, not be coming to Buffalo. He will have to work the margins of free agency looking for bargains and like he did in 2023, most of the players he signs will probably be on one-year contracts.

“I don’t think you’re gonna see any splashes (in free agency) even if I found something that was exciting to me,” Beane said. “I don’t think it would fit within our cap parameters. And so I think everyone needs to understand that we’re going to be shopping at some of those same stores we were shopping at last year. We’re not going to be on Main street of New York City, or wherever those high end shopping centers are. It’s not feasible to where we’re at, but we’re gonna use every resource we can.”

Sal Maiorana can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @salmaiorana. To subscribe to Sal's newsletter, Bills Blast, which comes out each Friday during the offseason, please follow this link:

This article originally appeared on Rochester Democrat and Chronicle: Buffalo Bills salary cap space 2024: Here's why it is worst in NFL