The Buffalo Bills made the splurge of free agency by signing Mario Williams. If they want to make any moves during the season, though, they may have to free up some money.
Everyone is at risk—veterans and newcomers to the NFL alike. The veterans, however, often make the easiest targets because they have the biggest contracts and their time in the league may be running short.
Some veterans come with a high amount of "dead money," which is the signing bonus money that will count against the cap even if the player is cut.
All salary information provided by Spotrac.com.
Edwards has performed well for the Bills since joining the team in 2010. He has started nearly every game he has played in that time, missing five games in 2010 to injury and playing a total of 27 games with 24 starts.
His stats don't jump off the page, but he was a solid five-technique defensive end in their 3-4 defense. The only problem for Edwards is that the Bills no longer have a dire need for five-technique defensive ends, because they're no longer running the 3-4.
Cutting Edwards would result in a cap saving of $4.1 million, as Edwards has $375,000 in bonus money that would come off his $4.475 million cap hit. Edwards could certainly find a role in the 4-3 defense, but if he's unable to do so or if his role in the defense isn't worth the money, he could be a cap casualty.
Throughout his career, Chris Kelsay has been solid but unspectacular at defensive end for the Bills. He's never logged more than 5.5 sacks in a season. While he could provide some value for the Bills defense in a rotational role, his contract pays him really well for such a limited role.
Kelsay is slated to count for $5.75 million against the cap, but cutting him would result in a cap saving of $3.5 million. This decision will likely come down to whether the Bills are confident that their depth at defensive end can step up and produce if needed.
Spencer Johnson started 11 games as a five-technique end last season. He's never been dominant, but over the course of his career, he has been steadily productive.
The problem with switching from a 3-4 to a 4-3 defense is that not only do you have to look for the right fits in the scheme, you also have to find economic value in the process. That can be hard to do when money has already been invested in the 3-4 due to the previous plans for the defense.
Fortunately, Johnson has experience in both fronts and could be productive as a rotational defensive tackle in the 4-3, where he has spent most of his playing career. The problem is deciding whether the Bills should invest $4 million in his services for 2012. Cutting Johnson would result in just a $500,000 cap hit.
Thigpen has been a favorite of Chan Gailey since the two were together in Kansas City back in 2007. However, do the Bills really want to pay $3.5 million to a third-string quarterback? They brought in Vince Young to be the backup to Ryan Fitzpatrick earlier this offseason.
It's not as though Thigpen has a ton of starting experience, anyway. He's 1-11 in his 12 career starts, and has completed just 54 percent of his passes.
Cutting Thigpen would result in just $500,000 in dead money, making him perhaps one of the most expendable players in terms of both dollars and sense.