All eyes have been on the Bills' quarterback competition this summer, but the team's hottest roster battle right now might be at punter. The Bills on Tuesday signed longtime Seahawks punter Jon Ryan to a one-year deal. He is expected to provide incumbent Colton Schmidt with a stiff challenge for the lone roster spot the Bills will use on the position (apologies to Rex Ryan, who loved rostering a "kickoff specialist").
When examining the potential salary cap ramifications of the move, it appears this battle could be all about punting, not money.
Schmidt, 27, is in the final year of his contract that will pay him $1.15 million if he remains on the team. He also has $300,000 of signing bonus money (which has already been paid) counting against this year's cap for a $1.45 million cap hit. The Bills would only be left with the $300,000 in dead cap space if they cut Schmidt. Ryan, a 12-year veteran, would earn $1.015 million this season if he signed for the minimum. However, the Bills would likely set up his contract to qualify for the veteran minimum salary benefit, which allows players with four or more years of service to sign one-year minimum deals that only carry the cap hit of a two-year minimum salary, which is $630,000 this season. (The rule, laid out in Article 27 of the Collective Bargaining Agreement, is aimed at helping veterans stick around by making it easier for teams to roster them when they could otherwise sign a younger player for a smaller cap hit.)
Cutting Schmidt plus rostering Ryan would cost the Bills $930,000 of cap space ($300,000 + $630,000), plus whatever bonus money Ryan gets, which can't exceed $90,000. If he gets the full bonus, that would bring the total cap hit of the move to $1.02 million and Ryan's actual money to $1.105 million. The move would save GM Brandon Beane $430,000 of cap space ($1.45 million - $1.02 million) and would save owner Terry Pegula $45,000 of actual money ($1.15 million - $1.105 million).
Since the Bills are in decent cap shape – ranking 16th with about $11 million of cap room, per Spotrac – they don't have an obvious need to pinch pennies here and recoup the small benefit they'd get by cutting Schmidt. So this battle could legitimately come down to which player punts the best. It may not be as sexy as the quarterback competition, but it'll certainly be interesting to watch in the team's final two preseason games.
Making sense of why the Bills announced Josh Allen as Sunday's starter: Jay Skurski gave his take on why the Bills announced Josh Allen as the starter for the third preseason game a week ahead of time.
Allen fixes footwork: The book on Allen has been that when he has accuracy issues, it's because of his footwork. Now that his performance is improving, he's crediting – you guessed it – footwork. "I had a problem with a long front step and that was causing my elbow to drop, and it was throwing off the entire sequence within the hip and the shoulder and the arm coming through," Allen said. "So when I keep that steady and I can take a small front stride and get (the left foot) down, my lead step, as fast as possible, the ball comes out quicker, it comes out cleaner, my throwing motion is less violent and that equals more accurate balls."
Ex-Bills guard Richie Incognito arrested for disorderly conduct, threats: Richie's tumultuous offseason continued with a disorderly conduct charge that appeared to stem from his father's wake.
Fox gets preseason game 3: Play-by-play man Kevin Burkhardt, analyst Charles Davis and sideline reporter Pam Oliver will be the TV crew for the Bills' third preseason game Sunday against the Bengals.
Ravens receiver Jimmy Smith to miss opener against Bills: Smith received a suspension that will keep him out four games.
Want more [BN] Blitz? Sign up for a two-week free trial by clicking here.