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What the new salary cap number means for the Bills

The NFL's salary cap will climb from $167 million last season to $177.2 million for the 2018 campaign, according to multiple reports Monday.

Most estimates had the number moving to at least $178 million and possibly $179 million. Pro Football Talk reported additional money was diverted to the Player Performance Pool to reward players who are lower paid but play a high number of snaps.

The figures were shared with all 32 teams in a memo from the league that also included the numbers for franchise and transition tags.

The Bills' actual salary cap for 2018, however, will be $188,783,459, according to the NFL Players Association. That figure is made up of the league's actual cap number, plus the $11,583,459 in unused cap space from 2017 the team rolled over.

According to Spotrac.com, the Bills will enter free agency on March 14 with $25.6 million available. That number already reflects the signing of free agent cornerback Vontae Davis last week, who has a $4.3 million cap hit ($3.5 million base and bonuses).

Tuesday's signing of running back Chris Ivory will cut into that amount. Ivory got a two-year deal worth up to $6 million, according to a report from NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, although his salary cap figure for 2018 has not yet been released. If it's in the neighborhood of $3 million, it would leave the Bills with $22.6 million, which would rank 20th in the league.

Buffalo has $18.68 million in dead money, tops in the NFL, according to Spotrac. Dead money is cap space being taken up by players no longer on the roster.

Two years ago, the Bills were slightly over the cap with two weeks to go before free agency. Last year they had about $20 million in space on the eve of free agency.

Among the reasons the Bills are in better shape than the past two years is they were able to roll over more unused cap space from 2017 into 2018. Consider it like rolling over unused cellphone minutes.

Last year, the Bills rolled over only $2.8 million into 2017. In 2016, only $2.2 million was rolled over from the previous year.

More teams are trying to roll over money. This year, about 14 teams are expected to roll over $10 million or more, Spotrac calculates. The previous two seasons, five and seven teams, respectively, added $10 million or more to their cap space.

The rise in the salary cap marks the fifth consecutive year it has gone up by at least $10 million. Since 2013, when it was $123 million, the cap has risen more than $54 million.

Teams have until Tuesday to use their franchise tags on impending free agents. Here are the tag values for each position:

  • Quarterback – $23,189,000
  • Running back – $11,866,000
  • Wide receiver – $15,982,000
  • Tight end – $9,846,000
  • Offensive lineman – $14,077,000
  • Defensive end – $17,143,000
  • Defensive tackle – $13,939,000
  • Linebacker – $14,961,000
  • Cornerback – $14,975,000
  • Safety – $11,287,000
  • Kicker/punter – $4,939,000

The News' Mark Gaughan contributed to this report.

Here is the three-part series that Gaughan did on the state of Bills' salary cap before the new numbers were announced:

Salary cap: Bills have more space but too much dead money

Salary Cap: Most expensive Bills represent team's past

Salary cap: Youth equals value for Bills' cap

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