The Buffalo Bills’ salary cap is severely out of whack.
That’s because the two players taking up the most space under it are producing at a level far below what's demanded from their lofty salaries. Defensive tackle Marcell Dareus and left tackle Cordy Glenn this season account for $30.6 million on the Bills’ salary cap, more than 19 percent of the team’s $159.3 million limit.
The return on investment the Bills have received for those massive financial commitments is firmly in the red. Dareus has one sack and three tackles in four games, appearing in just 95 of 337 defensive snaps (28 percent) so far. Glenn, meanwhile, has played just 22 percent of the offensive snaps (73 of 337). Foot and ankle injuries held him out of two games and limited his usage to just special teams in another.
As such, it’s no surprise that trade rumors have swirled around both players with the Halloween deadline approaching. Most recently, CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora reported that the Seattle Seahawks had approached the Bills about Glenn, “but those conversations largely fizzled.” That report was later confirmed by a league source to The Buffalo News’ Vic Carucci.
“While Glenn could be an option to be moved ahead of the deadline — Buffalo has a plethora of tackles at a time most teams have a scarcity, and the team is high on several of its young linemen — it would take a considerable haul to land him,” La Canfora wrote. “That and his high salary made for a poor fit with the Seahawks.”
Asked Thursday about that report, Glenn said it’s the first he had heard of it.
“None at all, honestly,” he said when asked if he had heard any trade rumors about himself. “I’m just here trying to do my part and be 1/11th. I don't really pay attention to all that, especially when I'm in season mode.”
Glenn also made it clear a trade wasn’t something he was seeking, saying “no, no, I love Buffalo” when asked if he wanted one.
Glenn practiced fully Thursday and lined up with the starters at left tackle, so it looks like he’ll be back in the lineup Sunday when the Bills host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. That’s good news for a couple different reasons.
As he showed with the trade of wide receiver Sammy Watkins to the Los Angeles Rams in the summer, General Manager Brandon Beane isn’t afraid of making a bold move. It’s hard to imagine any player on the Bills’ roster being untouchable. So if a team were to call Beane and make an offer for Glenn that the Bills couldn’t refuse, it would be vital that he shows that team he’s healthy. By carrying five offensive tackles on the 53-man roster after welcoming Seantrel Henderson back from suspension this week, the Bills have more than enough depth at the position to make such a move.
Any team acquiring Glenn would need a significant amount of cap space to make the deal work. His base salary is $9 million this season, so if a team were to trade for him before Week Eight, for example, it would commit nearly $5 million in base salary to him for the rest of the year.
The Bills would be left with $5.2 million in “dead money” by trading Glenn on this year’s cap — in addition to what they’ve already paid him in base salary — and would have a $9.6 million cap charge for him in 2018.
“All I concern myself with is doing my part and helping the team,” Glenn said Thursday.
Trading Dareus, who declined an interview Thursday, would carry its own tricky financial situation. Doing so would leave the $6.65 million on this year's cap, plus the portion of his $9.75 million he’s already been paid. Additionally, Buffalo would carry $14.2 million in dead money in 2018.
Any team acquiring Dareus would not only need sufficient cap space for the rest of this year, but also be committing $7.35 million to him in 2018, which is the guaranteed portion of his base salary. That’s not without risk for a player who has had multiple NFL suspensions, in addition to team-imposed discipline for tardiness.
“It’s a new regime and the way we’re doing this, I’m only one piece of the whole puzzle,” Dareus said last month when asked if he was disappointed with not being used more. “I have to play my role to the best of my ability. It’s not about me. I’m just going to do what I have to do for the best of the team.”
Dareus has played just 22 snaps in each of the Bills’ last two games. That’s clearly less than ideal for the highest-paid player on the team, even if the coaching staff is saying all the right things about him.
“He did a really good job in our last ballgame against Cincinnati, he really came along and played well for us, and we’d just like to build on that performance,” defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier said earlier this week. “We’re going to need him against this team we’re facing this coming Sunday. Just more of what we saw last week as we go forward. … We still have confidence in Marcell, for sure.”
Just like at offensive tackle, the Bills have the depth at defensive tackle to withstand a trade. Kyle Williams, Cedric Thornton, Adolphus Washington and Jerel Worthy would be left at the position.
“I’m trying to keep my mind clear and focused on the plays ahead, focused on the big games ahead,” Dareus said earlier this month. “I have one job and it’s to do the best I can at that.
Coach Sean McDermott “has a solid plan on what he wants, what he has for this team, what he has for me and everyone else across the front, the whole defense and offense. I know he has a plan for the future, he has a plan for this game coming up. We’re just focusing on playing one game at a time.”