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Josh Allen, Quinton Jefferson, Vernon Butler, Bills offseason roster

Buffalo Bills: 1 player who could be a surprise roster cut in the 2021 offseason

Although the Buffalo Bills came short of the Super Bowl, their 2020 season was a success. Buffalo finished the regular season with 13 wins and only three losses. Perhaps, even the most hardcore member of the Bills Mafia did not expect their quarterback Josh Allen to be an MVP candidate. Allen led Buffalo to the top of the AFC East division. He threw for 4,544 yards with 37 touchdowns and 10 picks. He also rushed for 421 yards and eight scores. Allen made quite the transition from talented but raw signal-caller to a franchise quarterback.

The Bills have arguably the most valuable asset in the NFL—a franchise quarterback on a rookie deal. This is what the Kansas City Chiefs had when they won it all in 2020 and the Los Angeles Rams had in Jared Goff when they reached the Super Bowl. Having the most important position in sports locked down for a team-friendly amount allows the team to spend money in other important positions.

Since Buffalo found success with their current lineup, they would be wise to hold on to their key pieces. Super Bowl LV between the Chiefs and Tampa Bay Buccaneers highlighted many things, but one of the most noticeable ones is the importance of protecting the quarterback. This is one of the similarities between the big game and the Bills-Chiefs AFC Championship Game. The difference was that it was Allen, who was constantly being pressured by defenders.

If the price is right, the Bills will probably re-sign offensive linemen Daryl Williams and Jon Feliciano as they both had a solid year and provide continuity to the unit. Improving the play of the offensive line is one way of protecting the quarterback. The Bills can have a reliable, rushing attack or scheme Allen to have more quick, short passes.

Buffalo is $1,822,851 over the cap. A roster cut they can make to improve this number is Quinton Jefferson. Doing so will provide the Bills $8 million in additional cap space with no dead money. The defensive tackle did not necessarily have a bad year, it’s just that his cap hit could be put to better use. He played in 16 regular-season games and had three sacks and a total of 21 tackles. 

Next season, Star Lotulelei may be back with the team after opting out of the last one. Lotulelei is a solid tackle that eats a lot of space and attracts double teams. Another defensive lineman Harrison Philips may return to the Bills after recovering from his knee injury. If these happen, Jefferson’s spot can be filled.

While on the topic of the defensive line, another cut the Bills can make is Vernon Butler. If they do, they will an extra $6.8 million to work with, although there will be $1 million in dead money. He finished the regular season with 16 total tackles and no sacks. Butler did not really live up to the expectations of his contract.

The unexpected cut that can be done is John Brown. Parting ways with the speedster will add $7.9 million in the war chest but come with $1.6 million in dead money. Unlike the first two names mentioned, Ross performed well on the field. Even though he only played in nine games, he had 458 receiving yards and three scores. The season prior he had over 1,000 receiving yards and found the end zone six times. Of the three proposed cuts, this will be the most difficult cut with which to proceed.

Brown was effective in his role as the third fiddle playing alongside All-Pro wideouts Stefon Diggs and Cole Beasley. Together with Allen, they produced one of the most dangerous offenses in the NFL. Brown has game-breaking speed, which can take the top off a defense and provide space underneath.

A silver lining to cutting Brown is that receivers of his kind can be found in later rounds of the draft. Brown himself was drafted in the third round, while Kansas City receiver Tyreek Hill was drafted in the fifth. This free agency class is loaded with wide receivers, so Buffalo might even sign an underrated pass-catcher. 

The savings from these cuts and other moves can be used to re-sign the aforementioned linemen. Another priority is getting linebacker Matt Milano back in the fold. To say his contract was a bargain is an understatement. His average annual salary these past four years was just $665,377. Suffice to say, he needs to get seriously paid this offseason. The pass coverage linebacker will have many suitors from other teams, as his game is easy to plug into a defense and is very relevant in today’s pass-happy NFL. 

Whatever cuts the front office decides, they must maximize the window of Allen’s team-friendly contract.