The Buffalo Bills entered the offseason with a salary-cap crisis on their hands.
That meant saying goodbye to veterans like Mario Williams, Leodis McKelvin, Boobie Dixon and Kraig Urbik. Those moves freed up enough cap space to re-sign offensive linemen Cordy Glenn and Richie Incognito.
Some other contract reshuffling has left the Bills with $12.146 million in salary-cap space with training camp approaching. That gives the team space to make changes to the roster, or sign players once the season starts because of injury.
Any unused cap space can also be carried over into 2017 – an important factor to consider given that quarterback Tyrod Taylor and cornerback Stephon Gilmore are scheduled to become unrestricted free agents after the coming season.
Cap savings is one factor to weigh when assessing which veterans are on the roster bubble as the Bills prepare to report to St. John Fisher College. The other players at the position, of course, also factor in.
With that in mind, here are eight veterans who are on the bubble to make the 53-man roster at the end of the summer.
Potential cap savings if cut: $350,000
Reason he could be expendable: While the cap savings aren’t huge for 2016, they would get Felton off the books for 2017. There is also the potential that undrafted free agent Glenn Gronkowski could win the job. Felton’s first year in Buffalo was a disappointment – he played just 26 percent of the offensive snaps and did not make a big difference in the run game.
Potential cap savings: $1,512,500
Reason he could be expendable: Carpenter missed six extra points last season and saw his field-goal accuracy drop. He reduced his base salary by $250,000 and pushed back a roster bonus of $250,000 – moves that show the team isn’t thrilled with the performance it got for the money Carpenter made. Undrafted free agent Marshall Morgan and former kickoff specialist Jordan Gay will make a push for the job.
Position: Wide receiver
Potential cap savings: $600,000
Reason he could be expendable: With just three catches over the last two seasons, Goodwin has given the Bills very little reason to keep him around. With 13 wide receivers in camp, there is a lot of competition for what amounts to three or four jobs.
Position: Right tackle
Potential cap savings: $402,835
Reason he could be expendable: Entering the third year of his career, Kouandjio needs to start justifying the second-round draft pick the Bills spent on him. With Jordan Mills and Seantrel Henderson at the position, it’s possible the Bills move on from Kouandjio if he finishes No. 3 in that competition.
Potential cap savings: $675,000
Reason he could be expendable: Williams fell out of favor with the current coaching staff last season and was relegated to special-teams duty. With the Bills signing a pair of safeties in free agency, he’s likely fallen down the depth chart and will need a good training camp to convince the team he should stick around.
Position: Tight end
Potential cap savings $675,000
Reason he could be expendable: The Bills signed Blake Annen to a reserve/futures contract, and the second-year veteran had an impressive spring. Gragg has played 32 games in his first three years with the Bills, but has not made a big impact on the offense. With Annen, Nick O’Leary and Jim Dray joining him behind starter Charles Clay, there will be competition for two jobs at most.
Position: Defensive tackle
Potential cap savings: $1,671,000
Reason he could be expendable. Probably the least likely cut on this list given the quality depth Bryant has provided, but worth including because of the return of Kyle Williams and the acquisition of Adolphus Washington in the third round. Bryant does not project to be a starter, so if a younger player like Justin Zimmer, for example, can beat him out for a reserve spot, there would be a significant cap savings.
Potential cap savings: $600,000
Reason he could be expendable: Butler played 70 percent of the team’s defensive snaps the final two weeks of 2015, but that was after injuries to other players. With the Bills adding three cornerbacks through free agency and the draft, Butler will have his work cut out for him to beat out those players.