The Buffalo Bills did what they had to in restructuring the contracts of Josh Allen and Von Miller on Monday.
The two moves – which involved converting $26.42 million of Allen’s 2023 base salary into a signing bonus that gets prorated over five years and converting $13.345 million of Miller’s roster bonus into a signing bonus that also stretches over five years – opened up $31.812 million of cap space for the Bills heading into the 2023 league year.
That gets the Bills under the cap and gives general manager Brandon Beane room to do some shopping in free agency. Of course, it also comes with a price.
By kicking the can down the road, the cap hits on both contracts continue to balloon in future years. Allen, for example, will count $47.056 million against the cap in 2024, and a whopping $56.556 million in 2025, followed by scheduled hits of $52.256 million, $45.284 million and $41.55 million in the final three years of his deal.
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Allen has a scheduled base salary of $23.5 million for the 2024 season, so the team could conceivably do the same thing again next year to create cap space. With Allen entering his age-27 season, the likelihood he’ll see the end of his contract, which is scheduled to end after the 2028 season, is reasonably high, barring injury. Beginning in 2024, he has annual roster bonuses as follows over the following six years: $6 million in 2024 (guaranteed), $25 million in 2025 ($16.5 million of which fully guarantees Sunday), $15 million in 2026, and $25 million in each of the 2027 and 2028 seasons. The Bills could also work out a contract extension in future years to bring some of his scheduled cap numbers down.
Other contract notes on Allen: He has a $500,000 workout bonus from 2023-25, and that jumps to $1 million from 2026-28.
In practical terms, Allen is tied to the Bills through at least the 2025 season. If he was released after that, it would cost the Bills $19.04 million on their 2026 salary cap, but save them $33.216 million in cap space.
With Miller, it’s a bit trickier. He’s entering his age-34 season as an edge rusher and is coming off a torn ACL. When he originally signed his six-year contract with the Bills last year, it was better described as “three years, and we’ll see” because it was relatively easy for the Bills to get out of after that amount of time had passed.
That’s probably still the case after Monday’s restructure, but it’s not quite as simple anymore. Miller’s scheduled cap hits for the next three years, starting with 2023, are as follows: $7.939 million, $23.874 million and $23.874 million. What matters here is how much it would cost the Bills to get out of the contract in “dead money,” which is defined as money already paid out to a player that still needs to be accounted for on the salary cap.
For example, if Miller was cut after the 2023 season, he would actually count $32.501 million against the 2024 salary cap, so $8.627 million more than what his scheduled cap charge is. In other words, that’s not happening.
If Miller was cut after the 2024 season, the “dead money” on the 2025 cap would be $15.417 million – a cap savings of $8.457 million from what his charge is scheduled to be. Maybe the Bills would do that, but $15.417 million is a lot of “dead money” to carry for one contract.
Miller has said his goal is to play all six years of the contract he signed with the Bills, taking him through his age-38 season. Given that, the likelihood of an extension of Miller’s contract is small because of his age, the Bills are probably not going to want to continually rework his deal, thus delaying the inevitable big cap charges doing so will bring.
Other notes on Miller's deal: He has an annual workout bonus of $100,000, and in 2023 his roster bonus is scheduled to be $165,000. That comes from a per-game roster bonus of $15,000. Since Miller played in 11 games in 2023, multiply that number times $15,000 to get the $165,000 in "likely to be earned" bonus money that the Bills have to count against the cap. If Miller plays in fewer games than that as he recovers from knee surgery, the Bills would receive a cap credit for the difference in 2024. If he appears in more than 11 games, the Bills would have a cap charge in 2024 for the difference. Say he plays in 13 games in 2023 – the Bills would lose $30,000 in cap space for 2024, which comes from the two games he played that were not counted against the 2023 cap.
In the remaining four years of Miller's contract, up to $255,000 in per-game roster bonuses ($15,000 per game) is available. The amount of games he plays in each year determines just how much of those bonuses count against the following year's cap number.