Both key members of the Bills' playoff team, it should be a no-brainer for Buffalo to pick up the options. A change in the collective bargaining agreement makes the fifth year guaranteed the moment it is exercised. In the previous CBA, the options were guaranteed for injury only.
Allen's fifth-year option is worth $23.106 million, while Edmunds comes in at $12.716 million.
As Buffalo GM Brandon Beane explained on Tuesday, the Bills utilizing the fifth-year options on Allen and Edmunds would hopefully be placeholders as a prelude to extensions for one or both of their key starters. The salary-cap implications of keeping both players on the fifth-year option in a 2022 year that could still see the cap not leap exponentially would be tough to maneuver.
"The short answer is, we're going to wait until after the draft to figure that out," Beane said when asked about picking up the fifth-year options. "We've had some discussions, but really, that'll be front and center as soon as the draft is done.
"The hard part of this year is going to be, the cap has gone down, (we) don't know exactly where it's going to be next year, probably not a huge increase. Josh's number is in the 20s because of a Pro Bowl. Tremaine has made a couple Pro Bowls, he's pushing 13. You can't really be flexible with those cap numbers, so we got to make sure if we pick them both up that we're going to have close to 35 million space in next year's cap. It's not an ideal scenario from that to pick them both up and not extend them, so we just got to figure out how to make that work in our system. But we'll have that answer once the draft is over."
While he didn't say it outright, the underlying point behind Beane's comment is that getting extensions done with their former first-round picks to lower their salary-cap figure is the ideal road. Those sorts of deals, especially when it comes to quarterbacks, take time. Usually, we don't see massive deals come in for QBs like Allen until closer to training camp.
All offseason, both Allen and the Bills brass have been confident an extension will get done in due time. The possibility of Buffalo waiting through the fifth-year option, then using the franchise tag, isn't desirable for either party, but it's a noted possibility if necessary. For the Bills, that means the next two years come with larger salary-cap hits and eventually losing leverage -- as we saw with the Cowboys and Dak Prescott. For Allen, his recent comment about the franchise tag was simply, "eww."
Beane noted Tuesday that everyone in Buffalo is on the same page in regard to an Allen extension.
"Josh and I have spoken, and I've also had one conversation with one of his representatives, and we're just going to get through the draft and then when we get to later spring, maybe summer -- there's no rush -- but we'll have some kind of conversation," he said. "And listen, we would love to get Josh extended, no doubt. But it's got to be a number that works for him and works for us, and that's been my conversation with them, and they know the same. We're all on the same page.
"Josh wants to be here. That's the first thing: Does the player want to be here? That gives me hope that we'll get something done at some point. I can't guarantee you it'll be this year. The good thing is, we have time. And I think I did say on that podcast, we tried in Carolina to get Cam Newton done at this time, and it didn't work. We weren't on the same page with his agent on where the value is to where they saw it. And so we just said, hey, no hard feelings, we're all on the same page here, and we just pushed pause. He played that season, and then after that season, we got it done pretty quick that next offseason. We were more on the same page. So I guess what I'm saying is, you can't force it; it happens when it's supposed to happen. And if it happens this year, great. If it doesn't, I'll be very positive that we'll get it done next year."
Whether it's this offseason or next offseason, the Bills and Allen remain on pace for a long-term marriage.
Before that, the Bills will need to walk through the formality of exercising the fifth-year option on Allen and Edmunds. First, Beane will focus on the draft next week and then get to the rest of that family business.