5 Potential Bills Salary Cap Casualties
That being said, there are a few players that could be in trouble.
If NFL stands for anything besides "National Football League," it's "Not For Long," and the players know this.
Every year, there are decisions to be made, be it a player underplaying his salary or simply not being able to stay healthy long enough to justify the numbers.
A "cap casualty" could be either a player being released, or his contract being restructured. Either way, the message is the same: The dollars don't make sense.
Who are some of those players for the Bills? Here are my thoughts.
All salary information provided by Spotrac.
QB Ryan Fitzpatrick
Joel Auerbach/Getty Images
2013 Cap Hit: $10,450,000
Dead Money If Cut: $6,200,000
Cap Savings If Cut: $4,250,000
Why He Might Be a Cap Casualty: Fitzpatrick signed a six-year, $60 million extension in the middle of the 2011 season, and has struggled fiercely since that point. Before the extension, he had a passer rating of 86 in 19 games with the Bills. In the 26 games since the extension, he has earned a passer rating of just 77.7.
The Bills will be running a brand new offense. Fitzpatrick has flashed the ability to be a solid short and intermediate pocket passer, but lacks solid mechanics and cannot throw the ball deep. Any offense where he is the quarterback will be severely limited in their play-calling.
The $20.6 million in cap space, though, should be plenty to absorb the hit of cutting Fitzpatrick.
Why He Might Not Be a Cap Casualty: Although Bills GM Buddy Nix has the world's worst poker face in regards to what position the Bills are looking at in the draft, the Bills put a lot of chips down on Fitzpatrick; Nix may not be so willing to fold his hand just yet.
Plus, if the Bills are looking at drafting a quarterback, they might want to field a veteran quarterback while the future of the franchise learns the ropes.
DE Chris Kelsay
Brian Bahr/Getty Images
2013 Cap Hit: $4,975,000
Dead Money If Cut: $850,000
Cap Savings If Cut: $4,125,000
Why He Might Be a Cap Casualty: Kelsay missed just two games in the first eight years of his career, but has missed a combined 11 games in the past two seasons. He dealt with a calf injury in 2011 and a neck injury in 2012, and ended the season on injured reserve.
Kelsay played just 295 snaps in nine games as part of a rotation at defensive end. He ranked outside the top 40 at defensive end according to ProFootballFocus.com, and 50th in terms of pass-rushing productivity (pressure on a per-snap basis with weighting given to sacks).
The Bills spent an exorbitant amount of money at the defensive end position last offseason, and if they were to keep Kelsay, they'd be on the hook for $21,875,000 at defensive end for the 2013 season. $5 million is just too much to give a backup.
Why He Might Not Be a Cap Casualty: The Bills are transitioning to a new head coach, and may find value in a veteran presence like Kelsay. That being said, if he were to be kept as depth, it would likely be at a different salary than the one he currently boasts.
CB Terrence McGee
Brian Bahr/Getty Images
2013 Cap Hit: $4,600,000
Dead Money If Cut: $2,250,000
Cap Savings If Cut: $2,350,000
Why He Might Be a Cap Casualty: The Bills drafted cornerback Stephon Gilmore in the first round in the 2012 draft, and went with cornerback Ron Brooks in the fourth round. They are clearly trying to infuse that position with youth, including Aaron Williams and Justin Rogers, who were each added in the 2011 draft.
McGee's snap counts have dwindled each year, from 322 in 2010 to 285 in 2011 to 145 this past season, and he ended the season on injured reserve this year with a knee injury.
While McGee excels in zone coverage, the Bills might be transitioning to a more man-coverage-oriented scheme under new defensive coordinator Mike Pettine.
Why He Might Not Be a Cap Casualty: Quite simply, the Bills do not have a lot of talent at cornerback outside of Gilmore. That being said, the Bills might be more keen on the idea of developing younger talent than trying to renew veteran talent, but the lack of depth at cornerback cannot be ignored.
Rogers and Williams have both struggled in the first two years of their careers, so no matter which direction the Bills go, it seems they'll be relying on players who have not performed up to standard of late.
S George Wilson
Joe Robbins/Getty Images
2013 Cap Hit: $4,041,667
Dead Money If Cut: $1,591,667
Cap Savings If Cut: $2,450,000
Why He Might Be a Cap Casualty: For much of the second half of the season, the Bills had a rotation at strong safety with Wilson and Da'Norris Searcy. Wilson didn't get more than 75 percent of the snaps from Weeks 9 thru 15. Wilson declined to comment on the rotation when asked about it by reporters, only to say, "I wasn't banged up at all. You have to talk to the coaching staff about the rotation." (via The Buffalo News).
Why He Might Not Be a Cap Casualty: Wilson started all 16 games for the Bills, despite being in that rotation.
He may not be incredibly versatile, and he may be a liability in coverage at times, but according to ProFootballFocus.com, he graded out as the team's second-best safety and third-best overall defender.
There is a role for a hard-hitting in-the-box type safety in Mike Pettine's defense, and oftentimes, those guys end up being big playmakers (see Jim Leonhard, LaRon Landry).
WR/KR/PR/QB Brad Smith
Rick Stewart/Getty Images
2013 Cap Hit: $4,000,000
Dead Money If Cut: $1,000,000
Cap Savings If Cut: $3,000,000
Why He Might Be a Cap Casualty: We are now seven years into Smith's career, and he remains a man without a role.
He's not really a wide receiver, not really a quarterback, and not really a returner.
At the very least, I'm sure Bills fans would love little more than for there to be a "Wildcat casualty" this offseason.
In any event, the Bills should ponder exactly what his role is, and whether he can live up to that contract.
Why He Might Not Be a Cap Casualty: The Jets seemed to have no problem finding uses for Smith, yet two years into his time in Buffalo, his potential still hasn't been maximized in a Bills uniform.
He did finally record his first season with multiple touchdown catches, as well.
If the Bills can find a role for him that fits his bill, he might stick around. Doug Marrone ranks a lot higher on the creativity scale than Chan Gailey.
Erik Frenz is the AFC East lead blogger for Bleacher Report. Be sure to follow Erik on Twitter and "like" the AFC East blog on Facebook to keep up with all the updates. Unless otherwise specified, all quotes are obtained firsthand or via team press releases.