How the Bills can fit potential $16M J.J. Watt deal on salary cap

This NFL offseason has created a stir surrounding the salary cap.

It has also hyped up talk of three-time Defensive Player of the Year in JJ Watt potentially signing in Orchard Park.

… Let’s ease into this one.

Due to COVID-19 keeping fans out of stadiums last season, revenues in the league went down. Because of that, the salary cap next season will drop. Latest reports suggest the cap will fall from $198.2 million in 2020 to $180-185M.

Recent news also suggests that the Buffalo Bills are interested in Watt and that the defensive end could land a new contract that averages somewhere between $15-16M per season.

Too much for the Bills’ salary cap, right?

Well, not really. That’s not exactly how the NFL cap works… so let’s explain a bit.

Currently the Bills are around that $180-185M area in terms of where their cap number sits. According to Spotrac, if the salary cap is set at $185M, then the Bills will have $3.2M in space to use currently.

That’s not going to work for $16M, but that would have never been the case anyway.

Here’s the gist of how NFL teams can work around that. A cap hit could be lower than $16M for various reasons. First, if the contract has multiple years on the deal… and part of that yearly total of $16 is paid out via bonuses such as a signing bonus. If Watt sign a one-year…

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