Bills general manager Brandon Beane says one of the reasons it’s hard to keep up with the Bengals is that Cincinnati has its best players on cheap rookie contracts, while Buffalo doesn’t.
“They now have the benefit of a rookie quarterback contract,” Beane said of Joe Burrow. “They’ve had a few lean years, and without losing too much of their stature, I don’t want to be bad enough to have to get Ja’Marr Chase. He’s a huge talent, I’d love to have him, but for that you have to go through a few lean years. They were able to Burrow No. 1 and get hold of Chase [No. 5] and those guys have their rookie deals. We pay Stefon Diggs a hefty sum. We pay Josh Allen a hefty sum. So there are the limitations of the cap. They have a really good team and they have some good young players. We will try to get as many players through the draft and free agency as possible, but again, our cap situation is a bit different.”
Beane said the NFL has not told teams what the 2023 salary cap will be, but Beane expects the bills to be over it in the offseason. That means the Bills’ first priority will be to take steps to get below the limit, rather than signing expensive free agents.
“We will have to come under the cap through moves, roster cuts. . . . There won’t be a Von Miller autograph or anything like that. We’ll have to work to get below the cap so we can operate this year,” Beane said.
Beane said there are steps the Bills can take to reduce the salary cap hits this year but those moves ultimately result in the salary cap hits being pushed into future seasons so Beane doesn’t want too many such moves to make.
“I don’t want to be $100 million over the cap in two years, as we’ve seen teams have to do. I’m not going to do that,’ Beane said.
Burrow will probably sign a lucrative contract extension this year, and Chase probably next year, so the Bengals won’t have that advantage for long. But for now, it’s an advantage that makes Beane jealous of the Bengals’ plight.