Given the way the Buffalo Bills have attacked the offseason, it might not be entirely safe to say they're finished making major moves.
But we're going to say it anyway.
With the aggressive structuring of an offer sheet designed to pry tight end Charles Clay away from the Miami Dolphins, the Bills have, by all accounts, done the extent of the biggest spending they intended to do before and during the NFL's free-agent signing/trading period.
Under the terms of the transition tag they placed on Clay, the Dolphins still can match the Bills' offer of a five-year contract worth $38 million (including $24.5 million guaranteed in the next two years) if they wish to retain the tight end or allow him to bolt for Buffalo. The five-day window to decide began Tuesday night, when Clay signed the offer sheet.
Yet, regardless of the outcome, the Bills aren't expected to make additional moves at the steep financial levels involved with:
- Acquiring running back LeSean McCoy from the Philadelphia Eagles and restructuring his contract to pay him $16 million guaranteed this year.
- Picking up veteran quarterback Matt Cassel and his $4.75-million salary, even thought he might very well become a backup to EJ Manuel.
- Re-signing defensive end Jerry Hughes to a deal that will pay him a guaranteed $22 million over the next two years.
- Signing Jerome Felton to a contract that, at $2.3 million per year, makes him the second-highest-paid fullback in the NFL.
- Reaching an agreement with wide receiver Percy Harvin on a one-year deal worth about $6 million.
The Bills have gone down a to-do list established by new coach Rex Ryan in a methodical fashion. General Manager Doug Whaley has clearly understood Ryan's vision, and proceeded accordingly.
And, of course, Ryan and Whaley have gotten a level of financial commitment from co-owners Terry and Kim Pegula that previous Bills football regimes couldn't always count on from the previous ownership.
It takes substantial cash to pay the players the Bills have identified as being crucial to their efforts to improve. In the case of Clay, whom Ryan and new offensive coordinator Greg Roman see as vital to their offensive scheme, it took putting up the kind of front-loaded deal (especially the $24.5 million this year and in 2016) that the Bills hope will discourage a match by the Dolphins.
What happens if the Bills don't land Clay?
They move on and will search elsewhere for tight end help, although they likely won't do anything approaching the effort they are making to try to get Clay.
They also will probably look to less expensive ways to address other key needs, such as offensive line. Not because of an unwillingness to spend, but because there are no must-haves remaining in the open market.