by Greg Gabriel, Buffalo Sports Page NFL Expert

There were many Buffalo Bills fans and even some Bills media who badly wanted the Bills to be the team that acquired former University at Buffalo defensive end Khalil Mack. Now that the trade has been made and Mack is a member of the Chicago Bears, we can see why Buffalo never could have gotten that deal done.

Too Much Money

The main reason is money. Sure the Bills have the cash available to write a contract similar to the one Mack received, but they didn’t have the cap space to do that kind of deal. Reality is that since Head Coach Sean McDermott and General Manager Brandon Beane have been running the Bills organization, they have been playing with a deck that has been less than full.

When Bean and McDermott took over the Bills they had a team that was loaded with bad contracts, contracts that gave big money to undeserving players. They had to clean up that mess and, in order to do that, it takes sacrifice. The Bills have sacrificed the last two seasons and following the 2018 season the Bills will be out of cap hell and will be able to compete on a more equal basis with the 31 other National Football League clubs.

Too Much Dead Cap

Looking at the Bills cap situation, they have cap space of only $7.8 Million dollars after the cut down to 53 players. The reason they have such a low amount of cap space is the dead money from former players. Just to give you an example, Marcel Dareus has a cap hit of $13.5 Million, Cordy Glenn carries another $9.6 Million and Tyrod Taylor has 7.6 Million. Eric Wood, who had to retire because of a serious injury, is on the books for another $10.4 Million. Add that up and we can see why the Bills couldn’t get involved with Khalil Mack.

As early as two weeks ago no one knew the kind of money that Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald and Mack would get. Both wanted to be among the highest paid defensive players but negotiation on those contracts had not even begun.

Deadlines Spur Action

When clubs get to the end of training camp and final rosters have to be determined, that by itself has a way of getting deals done. On Thursday the Rams finally got a deal done with Donald and that deal was worth over $141 Million spread over a six year period. The deal is fairly team friendly for 2018 with a cap charge of $8,892,000.  But the next two seasons the cap hits are $17.1 million and $25 million.

Mack’s agent Joel Segal wasn’t going to take less for his player.  When the deal was done on Saturday night, it came in at $154 Million over six years with a cap hit of $13.8 Million in 2018. Reality is the Buffalo Bills couldn’t have done either of those deals because of the cap situation they are in today.

The good news is come next spring the Bills will have cap flexibility, with most of the dead money gone, to do much more in the veteran free agent and trade market. That doesn’t take away from the hurt that Bills fans have today, but still it’s good to know that in the future the Bills will be able to compete on a more steady basis when players like Mack become available.


Greg Gabriel

Gabriel has spent most of his adult life as an evaluator for various NFL clubs. He started his career in 1991 working for the Buffalo Bills as a part time scout under dormer Bills Director of Player Personnel Norm Pollom. He left the Bills in June 1984 to become the Great Lakes area scout for National Football Scouting. Following the 1984 season, Gabriel joined the New York Giants as their Midwest area scout and was promoted to Director of Player Development in 1996. The Giants went to three Super Bowls and won two during Gabriel’s time with the club.

Following the Giants appearance versus the Baltimore Ravens in Super Bowl XXXV, Greg became Director of College Scouting for the Chicago Bears under General Manager Jerry Angelo. He held that position until June of 2010. During his time with Chicago, the Bears won three Division titles and the 2006 NFC Championship. In his nine Drafts with the Bears, the team drafted 12 future Pro Bowl performers such perennial Pro Bowler Matt Forte, Tommie Harris, Devin Hester, Lance Briggs and Charles Tillman.

In the 2012 – 2013 season, Gabriel was a consultant for the Philadelphia Eagles Scouting Department and has since done some small scouting roles for various NFL clubs.

Since leaving the NFL Gabriel has been a contributor for the National Football Post, the Bleacher Report and more recently Pro Football Weekly. He also is both a writer and contributor for WSCR (670the Score) in Chicago. The last three years he has authored the Pro Football Weekly Draft Guide.
Gabriel grew up in Amherst and is a 1974 graduate of Canisius College where he was a member of the football team. He and his wife Robin currently resides in the Chicago area.

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