There will likely be changes to the 2021 salary cap due to the pandemic but the Buffalo Bills are in a position to handle them.
According to NFL reporters Ian Rapoport, Mike Garafolo and Judy Battista the NFL and NFLPA are going to have tough negotiations coming up discussing the financial side of the sport and how to handle the salary cap past 2020. This will have direct impacts to all NFL teams, including the Buffalo Bills.
As the article notes, the salary cap is based on expected revenue for the upcoming year. The NFL has steadily seen this rise and have had the cap increase by at least $10 million dollars for seven straight years.
The issue lies in the fact that due to the pandemic it looks unlikely that games this upcoming season will be able to have full stadiums. The article breaks out what this means for NFL teams:
"The worst-case scenario is that every game is played in a completely empty stadium, leading to what sources have estimated as a $4 or $5 billion drop — about a third of revenue. Under that scenario, teams could bring in $40 to $80 million less than expected. The losses are likely to be less than that, because it is expected that some fans will be able to attend games in some stadiums, although stadiums won’t be packed. Still, if there are huge revenue losses, the 2021 cap will be impacted."
The good news for the Buffalo Bills though is that under Brandon Beane the focus has been to improve their management of the salary cap. Beane was forced to make tough decisions early as general manager but the franchise turned a corner and entered this offseason near the top of the league in available cap.
This allowed them to be active in free agency but keep some key players like Quinton Spain. Another sign of the health of the team’s salary cap is dead cap, which the Bills have the second fewest at $1,043,674 according to Spotrac. This was an area the Bills led the league in just a few years ago.
Why the Buffalo Bills are in good position
The main reason the Buffalo Bills are in good position, is one of the reasons they were in good position this year, and that is they have a majority of their key players still under contract past this upcoming season. The team’s biggest free agents are Matt Milano and Dion Dawkins with Jon Feliciano and Levi Wallace or Josh Norman as the other starters.
As the NFL.com article notes, the goal is to not have wild swings in the salary cap in 2021 with a significant rebound in 2022 with a new television deal. If the negotiations are able to work out a deal to keep the salary cap at the same level, the Bills would have roughly $20.9 million available in cap space based on Spotrac’s numbers of $177.3 currently committed for 2021.
The negotiations between the NFL and NFLPA are going to be be pivotal to what the 2021 offseason and season looks like and while it may limit what the Buffalo Bills are able to do in free agency, they should have enough to keep the players that would be pending free agents.