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How the Bills' offseason spending ranks thus far

The Buffalo Bills rank 11th in the NFL in total value of contracts handed out so far this offseason.

The Bills have handed out contracts worth about $130 million so far, which puts them just outside the top 10 in the league, according to data compiled by Spotrac.com. The league average for contract signings is $113 million, according to Spotrac. That includes high-profile free agents and street free agents, many of whom won't wind up making NFL rosters.

NFL free agency has been a bull market for four years in a row. The league's salary cap was essentially flat from 2011 to 2013. But it has gone from $133 million per team in 2014 to $177.2 million per team this year. That's a 33 percent increase over four years.

With most of the big free agents signed over the past two weeks, San Francisco leads the list of offseason spenders at $316 million, partly because it re-signed quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo in early February. His five-year, $137.5 million contract makes him the highest-paid player in the league.

Bills clearing the decks with big dead salary cap total

After the 49ers, the next five big spenders according to Spotrac, are: 2. Tampa Bay $262 million. 3. Chicago $238 million. 4. Jacksonville $227 million. 5. Washington $197 million. 6. New York Jets $190 million.

Those totals also count contract extensions. The dollar figures are the total value of the contracts, not necessarily what each team is going to wind up spending on the players because many won't play out the life of their contracts.

As has been typical during the bull-market period, the teams that are spending the most in free agency generally have huge cap space because they've done a poor job drafting. Teams that re-sign a lot of their own players to big second contracts (after the rookie deals run out) generally have less cap space.

Jacksonville is the prime example. The Jaguars handed out contracts worth $585 million in free-agency in the three seasons from 2015 to 2017. That was tops in the NFL. It paid off for Jacksonville last season, when the Jaguars went 10-6 and reached the AFC title game.

Jacksonville gave top-10-at-their-position contracts to defensive linemen Malik Jackson and Calais Campbell and defensive backs Tashaun Gipson and A.J. Bouye the previous two offseasons.

The Bills have tried to make the most of their spending by filling a lot of holes. Thursday's signings of receiver Kaelin Clay and cornerback Phillip Gaines brought to 15 the number of free-agent additions this month. The only teams that have added more free agents are the Jets (18), Oakland (18) and Chicago (16).

The Bills' most expensive acquisition is defensive tackle Star Lotulelei, who signed a five-year, $50 million deal with $25 million guaranteed. The contract includes a $13 million signing bonus. Quarterback AJ McCarron agreed to a two-year, $10 million deal.

 

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