Buffalo Bills: An Offseason Salary Cap Review
The Bills began free agency with a bang, signing Mario Williams to anchor a pass rush along with Mark Anderson, but had a relatively quiet summer. If there was a team that made almost no moves after the draft it was the Bills, who rarely seemed to add or cut a player that mattered in the top 51 in the summer. In that respect the Bills cap pages proved easier to maintain than others. They did close the summer with a flurry of moves, including trading for QB Tarvaris Jackson to replace draft bust Vince Young, releasing high priced DE Dwan Edwards and LB Shawne Merriman, and pulling the plug on two draft picks from 2012. For the most part I would say that GM Buddy Nix had a plan in February, did what he wanted to do in March, and then held tight until the end of August.
If you want to talk about putting all your eggs in one basket look no further than the Bills. They have huge money invested in their defensive line, nearly 29%, with the next closest position being Offensive Line, which was under 10%. Unlike the Jets and Dolphins, there was no real tapering down of positions. The Bills went wild for the line and then it was relatively equal spend everywhere else. Personally I question if it can work as they will need the sum of the whole to be better than the individual parts when it comes to rushing the QB. In stats I run on pass rusher efficiency I was surprised to see that Williams has never been a top 5 rusher. He gets a ton of sacks but seems to generate little pressure at other times. Anderson comes off his best season, but is normally a mid level pass rusher, and he was paired with Williams before and did not elevate alongside him. Neither Chris Kelsay nor Spencer Johnson would be considered good rushers anymore. The actual keys may be second year pro Marcell Dareus and veteran Kyle Williams on the inside who can both be devastating. Dareus showed incredible promise last season, which is rare for a first year pro at his position.
Most of the dead money has little to do with turning over the roster like the other teams. This money goes back to Lee Evans and Aaron Maybin who were both removed last season as two of the biggest flops of the old regime. Due to the high spend on the line the Bills will devote about 48% of their cap spending to the defense with only 36% being given to the offense. Offensively they seem to be of the opinion that one guy at each position will get the job done with the hope that the O-line shows the same pass blocking skills they did last season in the short fire passing attack. The team will likely make a quick move at QB if Ryan Fitzpatrick, an incredibly poor strategic signing, if he starts slowly. With only the Patriots presenting a passable offense in the division Buffalo may see him as the weak link and difference between being better or worse than the Jets and Dolphins this season.