"Around the League" is taking a look at each team's salary-cap situation heading into training camp. Next up: The Buffalo Bills.
Adjusted cap number: $134.519 million
Cap room remaining: $7.382 million
Best bargain: Jairus Byrd. The No. 42 pick in the 2009 NFL Draft, Byrd made an instant impact in the Bills secondary, and the NFL, when he tied for a league leading nine interceptions and made the Pro Bowl. An impressive total considering he only started 11 games and finished the season on injured reserve. In the two seasons since, Byrd has just four interceptions, two he returned for touchdowns, with two sacks and six forced fumbles. Byrd showed last season that he could stay on the field, playing in a career-high 98.65 percent of the team's defensive snaps. (His previous high was in 2010 with just over 80 percent of the snaps)
In the old collective bargaining agreement, second-round picks did not receive base salary escalators for the fourth and final season of their rookie contracts. So Byrd is slated to play out this season for the league minimum base salary of $615,000 along with a $25,000 workout bonus.
Potential cap casualty: 10 Bills have cap numbers in excess of $4 million. Due to the team's conversion back to a 4-3 defense, seven of those players are defensive linemen, including projected backups Shawne Merriman ($5.75M), Dwan Edwards ($4.475M) and Spencer Johnson ($4M). Merriman's $4 million base salary is partially guaranteed ($3 million, for skill and cap, which could keep him safe), but Edwards and Johnson could find themselves on the free agent market before the start of the season if some of the younger defensive linemen step up in the preseason.
Contract issue looming in 2013: Ryan Fitzpatrick. The Bills signed Fitzpatrick to a six-year, $59 million extension last October. By the end of the 2012 season, $21 million of that will have been paid out. If Fitzpatrick has another season in which his interception total nearly matches his touchdown total, and his passer rating is once again in the 80.0 range, the Bills will have to make a decision on his contract -- which includes a $3 million roster bonus (partially guaranteed, for injury only) that comes due on the second day of the 2013 league year and has cap numbers that will swell from $6 million this season to $10.4 million or higher from 2013 through 2015.