Inside the NFL: Bills well under salary cap - The Buffalo News
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Inside the NFL: Bills well under salary cap

The Buffalo Bills have plenty of cash room and cap space to withstand the injuries that will come during the season and to negotiate more contract extensions down the road.

The Bills stand about $19 million under their salary cap limit of $133.1 million, according to Buffalo News figures.

In terms of cash spending – the money that is scheduled to be paid out this year – the Bills stand at about $113 million, according to News estimates.

The Bills' cash spending so far this year ranks 21st in the NFL, according to ESPN senior writer John Clayton. They're $20 million in cash spending under the adjusted cap or $10 million under the standard NFL cap of $123 million. Every team's cap limit gets adjusted slightly up or down each year due to money rolled over or taken away from the previous year's expenditures.

The Bills already got a head start on advance signings by inking center Eric Wood to a four-year, $25 million extension.

Obviously, the Bills could strike a deal with safety Jairus Byrd after the season. But since the two sides had a full year to reach an agreement and couldn't get one done, it's hard to see how that stalemate is going to change.

The other most prominent Bills whose contracts are up after this season are tight end Scott Chandler and defensive end Alex Carrington. Chandler signed a two-year deal in March 2012. The Bills have had talks with Carrington, but they have yet to result in an agreement.

Carrington is in an interesting negotiating position. He's only 26 and he only has started six games. The expectation, however, is his career is on the rise and he's going to thrive in Mike Pettine's new defense. He's also playing a position that probably isn't going to rack up big statistics. Carrington's backup, Alan Branch, is playing on a one-year deal.

The Bills and most NFL teams assess cash spending in four-year windows to account for unusual expenditures in any given year. Last year, for instance, the Bills gave Mario Williams $25 million. The Bills finished about $6 million over their adjusted cap in cash spending last year and ranked sixth or seventh in the league in cash spending.

Buffalo had cash surpluses of roughly $14 million in 2011 and about $10 million in 2010, according to News figures.

So by any measure, the Bills have the money to build their team in whatever way they want in the coming years.

There is plenty of room in the budget -- or there should be, anyway, if they want to spend to the cap in cash, as they say they do. C.J. Spiller, Marcell Dareus and Jerry Hughes are among the players whose deals are up after 2014.

NFC rules

Keep an eye on interconference games this year. The NFC whipped the AFC, 39-25, last season, and the disparity between the conferences looks just as big this season.

The AFC West and AFC East look like the two worst divisions in the league. One could argue that seven of the bottom eight teams in the league reside in the AFC.

Fates turn for Palmer

From the Be Careful What You Wish For Department comes the plight of Arizona quarterback Carson Palmer. Just two years ago, on the heels of a disappointing 4-12 season, Palmer forced his way out of Cincinnati. He was tired of the Bengals, for whom he had played seven seasons. He doubted their ability to win. He didn't see any light at the end of the tunnel. He had grievances, some probably legitimate, with owner Mike Brown.

Nevertheless, he still had four years remaining on his Bengals contract. Brown had paid him, by our count, $86 million. How much do you have to pay somebody to win their loyalty? Apparently, $86 million isn't enough. Palmer could not suck it up and accept that it was his lot in life to play for the Bengals and guarantee lifetime security for his grandchildren. He held out until mid-October 2011 and won a trade to Oakland. If Brown was shrewd enough to foresee that he was exiling Palmer to an NFL Siberia, God bless him. Whatever dysfunction existed in Cincinnati, Oakland's trumped it by a factor of 10. Palmer went 8-16 in two seasons with the Raiders.

Now Palmer is with rebuilding Arizona, which just lost rookie first-round draft pick Jonathan Cooper to a major injury and will field what looks like one of the worst offensive lines in the league. The Cardinals are at the bottom of the toughest division in the league.

Meanwhile, the talent Cincinnati had been stockpiling blossomed just as Palmer walked out the door. The Bengals have made the playoffs the past two seasons and are among the AFC favorites this year. It could have been Palmer directing them. Furthermore, the Bengals' O-line is excellent. Cincinnati will be without star left tackle Andrew Whitworth today but has one of the best swing tackles in the league in Anthony Collins to fill his spot. And they say there is no justice in the world.

Brady on Manziel

You have to love Tom Brady, or at least respect him, even if you're a Bills fan. Here's his response on CNBC this week when asked about the showboating of Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel and the showing of emotion on the field:

“I get pretty emotional. I have a lot of respect for the teammates, for my teammates, for my organization, and certainly for other guys in the NFL. There's not a guy playing in the NFL who hasn't earned the right to be here, and who isn't supremely talented. He's probably been the best athlete in his high school class, in his elementary school class. So when you look across the ball you have respect for those guys, and you treat them with respect because football's a physical game.” Then Brady quoted Pats owner Robert Kraft, saying: “If you're a turd, it's going to come back to you.”

McKeller honored

Retired Bills tight end Keith McKeller was one of three men named this week to the Division II Football Hall of Fame. The hall, founded in 1999, is located in Florence, Ala. McKeller was an all-conference basketball player for Jacksonville State for four years, then walked onto the school's football team in his fifth year of college eligibility. Despite having not played football since high school, he led the team in receiving with 26 catches for 449 yards. The Bills made him a ninth-round pick in 1987. He caught 124 passes for the Bills from '87 to '93, and the “K-Gun offense” was named after him. McKeller lives in Winston-Salem, N.C.

Onside kicks

• Buffalo currently has 21 players on the 53-man roster who are new to the organization this year. That's the biggest turnover the team has seen since the Great Salary Cap Purge of 2001, when there also were 21 newcomers to Buffalo. Last year there were only 11 players new to the organization on the opening-day roster. In 2010, when Chan Gailey took over, there were 16.

• If the Bills can hold New England under 17 at halftime today, it will be a minor victory. New England was the fastest-starting team in the NFL last year. The Pats averaged a league-best 11.06 points in the second quarter last year.

• The Pats have won nine straight season openers. A win today would tie them for the third-longest streak of success in season-opening games. The record is 17 straight Week One wins by Dallas from 1965 to 1981. Miami had 11 straight, from 1992 to 2002.

• The Bills have the fourth worst opening-day record in the league, at 21-32 (.396). Dallas, at 35-17-1 (.673) has the best percentage.

• Adrian Peterson needs 151 rushing yards today to join Eric Dickerson and Jim Brown as the only players to gain 9,000 yards in their first 90 NFL games. Dickerson had 9,915, Brown 9,322. Peterson has 8,849.


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