On Thursday, general manager Doug Whaley confirmed on the John Murphy Show that the team came to an agreement with Clay on a restructured contract (h/t Chris Brown of the Bills' official website).
Tyler Dunne of the Buffalo News added the financial reasoning behind the move: “Clay's $10 [million] roster bonus next month was likely converted to a signing bonus. That'd clear $7.5 million off the Bills' cap.”
Brown said the restructuring of the deal was a “good step forward” toward rectifying the “tight salary cap situation for 2016.” Brown noted converting the money into a signing bonus “would cut Clay’s cap figure by more than 50 percent.”
Brown also specifically mentioned offensive tackle Cordy Glenn and guard Richie Incognito as two priority players set to become free agents Buffalo can use the additional money on this offseason, as well as defensive backs Leodis McKelvin and Corey Graham.
Elsewhere, Brown singled out Mario Williams’ $19.9 million cap figure as “cost prohibitive” and one major reason the team is facing salary-cap difficulties.
Dunne foreshadowed moves like this heading into the NFL Scouting Combine: “And the Bills will be talking about pay cuts with several players' agents this week in Indianapolis. They have no other choice.”
Whaley at least looked at the silver lining for the situation, per Dunne: "I think it’s a good issue to have—we have good players and we can’t keep them all."
While Clay proved valuable to the Bills simply by restructuring his contract Thursday, his actual on-field production dipped some from his previous two years with the Dolphins:
|Season||Team||Receptions||Receiving Yards||Touchdown Catches|
However, he is still only 27 years old and theoretically has a couple of seasons remaining in his prime. The 2016 season will likely represent his second with quarterback Tyrod Taylor, so that familiarity could lead to better numbers.
If nothing else, he helped his team Thursday in a financial sense.