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Bills GM Beane relieved by record jump in NFL salary cap while still left with plenty to slash

Challenging as the job might be for Brandon Beane to get Buffalo's bulging payroll under the NFL’s salary cap within two weeks, the Bills general manager happily appreciates how much more difficult it could have been.

A league-record $30.6 million jump in cap dollars for the 2024 season for a team that entered this offseason with the NFL’s worst cap number led to Beane expressing a sigh of relief in addressing reporters at the NFL combine in Indianapolis on Tuesday.

“Every dollar you can get helps,” said Beane, referring to the salary cap increasing to $255.4 million. “We were conservatively planning for a number in the 240s. So to get the 255, I was smiling, yeah.”

Beane has already gotten to work in having to slash a projected $44 million off Buffalo’s 2024 payroll once the NFL’s new business season begins next month, which coincides with the start of the league’s free-agency period.

He confirmed his first move in restructuring offensive lineman Connor McGovern’s contract in a move that freed up about $3.74 million.

More moves are coming, with one of the biggest cost savings expected to involve reworking quarterback Josh Allen’s contract, which represents a $47 million cap hit for this season. Spotrac.com suggested the Bills could free up nearly $23 million in cap space alone by converting most of Allen’s base contract and roster bonus into a signing bonus.

Without mentioning Allen specifically, Beane said he’s already been in contact with player representatives to determine his options in what are essentially paper moves by converting bonuses or extending contracts to reduce their cap numbers.

The balancing act involves how much room Beane creates in providing enough flexibility to restock or even upgrade a roster that currently features 22 players eligible to become unrestricted free agents, and how much cap money he pushes into the future that could limit his spending in the following seasons.

“Now that we know the cap, we’re working through getting under, and then how much can we create without totally piling up a huge mess in 2025 or ’26,” he said.

Among the Bills’ most high-profile pending free agents are receiver Gabe Davis, edge rushers A.J. Epenesa and Leonard Floyd, defensive lineman DaQuan Jones and safety Micah Hyde, who is contemplating retirement.

On the injury front, Beane held open the chance of linebacker Matt Milano being cleared to begin practicing as early as the team’s spring voluntary sessions. Milano sustained a season-ending injury to his right leg in Week 5. Beane was less definitive regarding the status of cornerback Tre’Davious White, who tore his right Achilles tendon in Week. 4.

The Bills closed an inconsistent season by winning five straight to finish 11-5 and clinch their fourth straight AFC East title. After beating Pittsburgh in the wild-card playoff round, Buffalo lost to the eventual Super Bowl champion Chiefs — the third time in four years the Bills have been eliminated by Kansas City.

On Monday, coach Sean McDermott told reporters he has not decided whether to relinquish the defensive play-calling duties after promoting linebackers coach Bobby Babich to the fill Buffalo’s vacant coordinator role. McDermott took over the play-calling duties after coordinator Leslie Frazier opted to leave the team in February to pursue head coaching opportunities with a year left on his contract.

“We’ll make that decision when we need to,” McDermott said. “Right now, we’re just one step at a time.”

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AP NFL: https://apnews.com/hub/nfl

John Wawrow, The Associated Press