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Pollock: Bills’ GM Beane discusses salary cap, free agency

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By CHUCK POLLOCK, Sun Senior Sports Columnist

On Tuesday afternoon in the media room of the Bills’ training facility in Orchard Park, general manager Brandon Beane spent an hour answering questions about the just-completed season and what 2024 potends.

Of course, many of them dealt with the Bills’ terrible position with the salary cap, which they are $43 million over, and will have decisions to make on their 22 unrestricted free agents with expiring contracts (listed below).

BEANE made it clear there will be no big-splash free agent signings, the same as last year.

“We don’t have the same money (cap space) we had going into 2019 and 2020 but we’ll work around it.” he maintained. “We’re not planning to just take a year off and not be competitive. Will we be younger in some areas? Yes. You have to rely on draft picks.  Maybe we’re not able to keep five D(efensive)  tackles we feel can play. We’ve always tried to create as much depth as we could and (this season) we had to play with some depth down the stretch.”

Beane continued, “Sometimes when you’re trying to work your cap and you’re paying your quarterback (gesturing) up here (Josh Allen will make $42 million this coming season) … We’ve definitely been aggressive the last couple of years (in free agency), that’s not going to be an option, but I’m not laying down my head tonight thinking we don’t have a shot at it next year.

“If you don’t draft well when you get in this cap situation, it really shows. We had young players playing this year whether it was their first (or second) year on the team. We still have to get those guys and maybe we have to count on them. Where we have to fill holes that we can’t do in the draft, we’ll have to hit on those (free agents that are signed). If we put $2½ million on a guy, he’d better help us win … and if he doesn’t that’s on me … my job to Sean (McDermott) and the coaches and to Terry and Kim (Pegula, team co-owners).”

He explained, “The one-year deals … we’ll have to do some of that and we’ll have to be selective.  We’ll sell the fact this is a team that’s gotten to where we’ve gotten, not all the way that we want, but it’s a competitive team and with Josh Allen and what we’ve done here (hopefully) will be an attractive option. They’re going to chase the money but that’s how we got some of those one-year deals we got done a year ago.”

Beane concluded, “The AFC is loaded, it’s not going anywhere, and it will be a hard road again next year to get to where we got. I’m not taking it for granted, ‘See you back in the divisional playoffs.’ It took everything we had to get into the playoffs in the last week and win the division and it’s going to be even harder next year. People know who the Buffalo Bills are and we’re going to get their best. That’s part of why the Chiefs were 11-6 this year, they’ve had all this success, more than we have, so they get people’s best and we’ve got to be ready for it.’

NOT ONLY are the Bills currently way over the salary cap, they also must decide which of their 22 unrestricted free agents to keep and who to let go.

On offense are wide receivers Gabe Davis and Trent Sherfield, running backs Damien Harris, Latavius Murray and Ty Johnson, lineman David Edwards, tight end Quintin Morris and quarterback Kyle Allen.

It gets worse on defense with 14 free agents: Edge rushers Leonard Floyd, Shaq Lawson and A.J. Epenesa, tackles DaQuan Jones, Jordan Phillips, Tim Settle, Poona Ford and Linval Joseph, linebackers Tyrel Dodson and Tyler Matakavich, cornerbacks Dane Jackson and Cam Lewis and safeties Micah Hyde and Taylor Rapp.

Some are easily disposable, but others, not so much.

THE END of the NFL’s regular season solidified all 32 teams’ opponents in 2024.

For the Bills, there are the usual home-and-homes with AFC East foes Miami, New England and the New York Jets.

The other five home games are the Jaguars, Titans, Chiefs, Cardinals and 49ers.

Buffalo’s six non-division road games are at Houston, Indianapolis, Baltimore, Detroit, Seattle and the L.A. Rams.

Because the Bills have only eight regular-season home games, they will also have two preseason contests at Highmark Stadium.

The NFL will announce regular-season dates in early May.

(Chuck Pollock, a Wellsville Sun senior sports columnist, can be reached at cpollock@wnynet.net.)

Read more from Chuck:

Beane and McDermott talk about the season

• Don’t blame Bass for the playoff loss

• St. Bonaventure coach Mark Schmidt was right about the Atlantic 10 and the Bonnies

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