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The Youth Movement Is on in Western New York: Bills Cut a Flurry of Veterans Amid an Offseason of Changes

Just two months removed from their heartbreaking loss to the Kansas City Chiefs in the Divisional round of the playoffs, the Buffalo Bills entered the offseason with one major problem. Faced with the most significant salary cap deficit across the league because of all their spending and pushing money down the table, even after the NFL released its record ceiling of $255.4 million, Buffalo was still reportedly $41.3 million over that figure. That is $9 million greater than the next-highest team, the New Orleans Saints ($36.4), and nearly $130 million beyond their bitter AFC East Rival, the New England Patriots, who had approximately $70 million to play with as the NFL opened its new league year up on Wednesday afternoon.

With an aging roster accounting for some of their most significant cap hits, general manager Brandon Beane spoke about the challenges ahead for his team at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis.

"Yeah, I mean, every, every dollar you can get helps you. It's, It's, you know, we're working now through guys to restructure. You saw we did that with Connor McGovern yesterday and had conversations going in the last few weeks with different players' representatives, just uh various things, whether its extensions, whether its uh modifying the contract, whether it's um in this case, restructuring, which is really just moving some money."

Three Longtime Pieces Released

Beginning his roster purge on Wednesday afternoon, the team released safety Jordan Poyer just one season into his two-year contract extension. Arriving in Orchard Park in March 2017, the former seventh-round pick would form one of the best safety tandems in the game alongside Micah Hyde. He earned first-team All-Pro honors in 2021 and was a Pro Bowl selection in 2022. Appearing in all 16 games last season, the Oregon native recorded 100 tackles, four pass breakups, a forced fumble, and one sack. Carrying a cap hit of $7.72 million and a dead cap value of $2 million, the decision to release Poyer cleared $5.7 million in space for Buffalo.

The Bills also cut center Mitch Morse. Formerly a second-round pick of the Chiefs in 2015, the 31-year-old spent the last five seasons in Western New York. A steady piece in the middle of the offensive line for Josh Allen, he started 77 games while being voted a team captain twice. Furthermore, he anchored the unit that allowed a league-low 23 sacks during the 2023 season. Buffalo cleared $8.5 million in cap space by moving on from the Austin, Texas native. Furthermore, with a direct replacement on the roster in McGovern, the Penn State product has experience playing center during his time with the Dallas Cowboys and is expected to step into that position.

Lastly, Beane released two-time Pro Bowl cornerback and fan-favorite Tre'Davious White in the most shocking move of the day. Once one of the league's premier defensive players, he finished fifth in Defensive Player of the Year Voting in 2019 while leading the NFL with six interceptions. A one-time First-team All-Pro member, he has suffered two significant injuries. The LSU product tore his ACL, cutting his 2021 campaign short. Moreover, he also sustained a torn Achilles a year ago that ended his season short after just four games. Set to save $10.2 million by moving on from White; Buffalo will designate him as a post-June 1st cut, meaning his contract will remain on the team book until then. Nonetheless, the 29-year-old can now sign with any team before then.

What It Means Moving Forward

Amid the flurry of roster cuts, Buffalo's goal remains the same. The franchise needs to get younger and cheaper as they look to bring in the next crop of talent around superstar quarterback Josh Allen and extend their championship window. Choosing to re-up with their own free agents, they locked up Dion Dawkins to a three-year $60.5 million extension, making him the fourth highest-paid tackle in the NFL. One of the game's premier blindside protectors since landing in Orchard Park in 2017, Dawkins has earned three Pro Bowl nods in seven seasons. Furthermore, Beane also brought back two key members of the Bills defensive line by agreeing to terms with A.J. Epenesa and Daquan Jones on two-year deals.

Shifting towards next April's NFL Draft, Buffalo owns 11 picks, including the 28th overall selection in round one. Needing to upgrade at the wide receiver position following the departure of Gabriel Davis, the Bills also parted ways with Deonte Hardy, leaving Stefon Diggs, Khalil Shakir, and Andy Isabella as the only other wide receivers who took snaps for the team last season. They have reportedly had pre-draft visits with Troy Franklin, Keon Coleman, Tez Walker, and Xavier Worthy. Furthermore, after choosing to release Poyer and with Micah Hyde remaining a free agent, expect Beane to target a long-term starting option at safety to join Taylor Rapp on the back end.

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