Where Should the Buffalo Bills Be Spending Their Money This Offseason?

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Where Should the Buffalo Bills Be Spending Their Money This Offseason?
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As the combination of head coach Doug Marrone and general manager Doug Whaley enter their second year, they will surely look to put their fingerprints all over the Buffalo Bills' roster, but sometimes the best place to start is by investing where prior investments have not already been made.

That way, the team can do its best to spread the wealth over the whole roster.

The Bills have a handful of big contracts on the docket already for the 2014 season, but with more than $17 million in cap space being rolled over from 2013, they're still in good shape at $19,283,662 in cap space this offseason.

Let's turn to some charts from the hardworking people at Spotrac to help us determine where the Bills' money would be well spent.

 

Offense

Source: Spotrac.com

Positional spending, offense
Position Cap dollars Percent of 2014 cap*
Wide receiver $14,078,617 11.15%
Running back $10,186,916 8.07%
Quarterback $7,491,052 5.93%
Center $7,050,000 5.58%
Right tackle $3,450,000 2.73%
Left tackle $3,389,844 2.68%
Guard $3,375,000 2.67%
Tight end $2,548,194 2.02%
Total $51,569,623 40.83%

Source: Spotrac.com (* = % based on projected $126.3m cap)

Where They Can Save Money: Right Tackle, Quarterback

The most obvious potential cap casualty for the Bills this offseason is right tackle Erik Pears. He's scheduled to count $3.45 million against the cap in 2014, but only $550,000 of that is dead money; the Bills could recoup $2.9 million in cap space if they moved on from Pears. With younger backup Chris Hairston on the roster, they may be inclined to make that move. Hairston has played well filling in all over the line in his three-year career, but he did not play last year after being placed on injured reserve.

Another contract to watch is Kevin Kolb. The backup quarterback will count $3.6 million against the cap in 2014, making his the 10th-highest cap hit on the team. His 2013 season ended rather abruptly in the preseason when he suffered a concussion and reportedly couldn't answer "where are you" and "what's your name"-type questions, but the Bills moved on to Jeff Tuel, and later Thaddeus Lewis, as their backups. 

 

Where They Can Spend Money: Guard

After letting talented left guard Andy LeVitre walk in free agency, the Bills were in a sticky situation at guard this year, with developmental backup Colin Brown eventually getting the nod. He struggled mightily before being injured, and Steelers castoff Doug Legursky was inserted in the lineup. The Bills made it work, but the running game could greatly benefit from better blockers up the middle.

Doug Marrone is fully aware that his explosive rushing attack was hindered in 2013 by its offensive line, and the offensive-line guru will probably not tolerate poor play up front much longer.

 

Defense

Source: Spotrac.com

Positional spending, defense
Position Cap dollars Percent*
Defensive end $25,720,000 20.36%
Defensive tackle $13,238,232 10.48%
Cornerback $9,108,147 7.21%
Outside linebacker $4,281,065 3.39%
Inside linebacker $1,472,364 1.17%
Safety $4,340,354 3.44%
Total $58,160,162 46.05%

Source: Spotrac.com (* = % based on projected $126.3m cap)

Where They Can Save Money: Defensive Tackle

The four-year rookie contract for defensive tackle Marcell Dareus is expiring after the 2014 season, or at least that's how it stands currently. The Bills have two options with Dareus: They could try to get a long-term extension done to reduce his cap hit, or they could pick up a fifth-year option, which would essentially be a one-year extension worth $7 million. The roughly $6.75 million average over the next two years would put him close to the top-5 defensive tackles in the league.

After logging 7.5 sacks in 2013, maybe he deserves it, but unless the Bills are going to let him walk after his rookie deal is up, the clock is ticking on getting a new contract signed. The deadline to pick up that fifth-year option is May 3. That date could serve as the impetus to get a long-term deal done.

 

Where They Can Spend Money: Safety

This is likely music to Bills fans' collective ears. Yes, if the Bills have their heads screwed on straight, their first priority will be to retain safety Jairus Byrd.

The franchise tag, however, is not an option. After spending $6.916 million on Byrd's tag last year, the Bills would have to pay 120 percent of the 2014 franchise tag value (estimated to be around $8 million, meaning it would cost close to $10 million for one year if they want to retain him). 

The alternative is to sign him to a long-term deal. Michael Ginnitti of Spotrac predicts Byrd's deal could be in the neighborhood of a five-year, $38 million pact that would pay Byrd roughly $7.6 million per year. 

The cold truth on Byrd is that there's no other safety like him available on the open market, so it would be in the Bills' best interests to keep him. If they aren't willing to pay him a big contract, someone else will. 

 

Erik Frenz is also a Patriots/AFC East writer for Boston.com. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes obtained firsthand or via team news releases. 

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