Bills’ Jordan Poyer, Tre’Davious White and the cost of winning now

BUFFALO, N.Y. — As Sean McDermott drove to One Bills Drive for the Buffalo Bills‘ divisional round game vs. the Kansas City Chiefs, he thought about how the moment represented a final opportunity.

“One last time,” he said, “for [safeties Jordan Poyer and Micah Hyde] to run out of the tunnel again and hear their names called.”

For the Bills, it is the end of an era. The future came calling, with big contracts and injuries leading to moves that will reshape parts of the team.

The season ended with yet another playoff loss to the Chiefs, and on Wednesday, the Bills went through a series of moves to create cap room and move toward that new era, releasing starters and leaders in Poyer, cornerback Tre’Davious White (per sources) and center Mitch Morse.

Hyde, who went into the offseason openly contemplating retirement and is set to become a free agent next week, and Poyer were both signed as free agents in 2017, and White was the first draft pick selected under McDermott.

Since 2017, the Bills broke a historic playoff drought, have the fourth-best record in football and have become a consistent contender, especially with quarterback Josh Allen. Success has become expected.

Most of the moves made this week were logical steps for a team that entered Wednesday more than $40 million over the cap. General manager Brandon Beane has been up front about a desire to not push too much money down the road.

“We’re working through getting under and then how much can we create without totally piling up a huge mess, you know, in ’25 or ’26,” Beane said at the NFL combine last week.

So the Bills put in the work on “getting under,” with the combined moves clearing almost the entire amount the team needed to get cap compliant for the start of the league year, in addition to $10.2 million in cap space created in June with White designated as a post-June 1 release.

The team also moved on from key special teams player Siran Neal, running back Nyheim Hines, wide receiver Deonte Harty. Key re-structures are also being done to the contracts of both pass-rusher Von Miller — a significant move as the splash to sign Miller in 2022 impacted the roster in several ways — and cornerback Rasul Douglas.

They get the Bills much closer to the cap number with only one major restructure in Miller, soon to be 35, while also not pushing his money down the road. The other obvious restructure to come is to Allen’s contract, which could now theoretically be the only one the Bills need to do.

Signing Allen to a significant contract early, extending Stefon Diggs in a big way in 2022 and bringing in Miller as the Bills worked to make the steps needed to reach the Super Bowl put the Bills in the cap situation they were in with the need to clear space. Ultimately, however, the team fell short with poor injury luck and just not reaching that final stage. Now the quest continues to stay as competitive as possible, but still on an annual basis, not consistently in tough cap spots.

The choices that the Bills make this offseason are crucial to continue to build around Allen, with Wednesday’s moves already showing a progression to a younger roster with 11 projected draft picks awaiting Beane in April and now, the beginning of cap space to make some moves in free agency.



Schefter: Poyer one of many cap-related cuts coming for Bills

Adam Schefter discusses why the Bills released veteran safety Jordan Poyer.

Why these moves?

In terms of recent on-field performance, Morse was the most significant release as the center has been a key figure in the middle of an offensive line that is coming off an impressive season under coach Aaron Kromer and had one year remaining on his deal.

For the upcoming season, keeping Morse at center would have been the logical move overall for consistency on the offensive line, with the rest of the starting unit set to return, and his strong play last season. Morse, 31, has been a key part of the offense and moving on from him will have an impact. Releasing him, however, saved $8.5 million and likely other restructures that would have been necessary. That might be a short-term consequence the Bills may see depending on how Connor McGovern, who the team expects to move from left guard to starting center, performs.

Poyer, 32, saw a drop in performance last season. From 2021 to 2022, Poyer led all players in passer rating allowed as the nearest defender in coverage with a minimum of 50 targets (34.1), allowing opponents to complete 49% of passes while recording nine interceptions. Last season, Poyer’s numbers significantly dropped, allowing opponents to complete 73% of their passes and a passer rating of 105.1.

Moving on from Poyer likely represents a completely new look at safety — safety Taylor Rapp was re-signed to a three-year deal Wednesday. Even if Hyde — who missed almost the entire 2022 season after neck surgery and dealt with stingers in 2023 — does decide to return, affording him would be a whole other conversation.

“I’ve never seen a safety duo for seven seasons play together,” Beane said last week. “I don’t know that you’re ever going to find a tandem as good as that. We’ve been spoiled, so whether you have to replace it all at once or whether you keep one or both, those are all decisions we’re still working through. … We’re going to try to make the best decision we can knowing that if you don’t have them both, it’s going to be hard to match the pair that we’ve had the last seven seasons.”

When White tore his right Achilles in Week 4 — the second major injury in less than three years to the 2019 All-Pro — it put in doubt if the Bills could afford to keep him on the contract he signed when healthy and how he would perform in the future, especially after Douglas was acquired at the trade deadline from the Green Bay Packers and performed well alongside 2022 sixth-round pick Christian Benford.

Injuries can’t be predicted, especially in the nature that they happened to White, but the cap-saving decisions made Wednesday became necessary because of the injuries and push to win in a certain time.

What’s next?

Allen’s contract restructure feels inevitable. Then there’s replacing the talent that is leaving the roster, both by having success in the draft and finding talent in free agency at the right price. The secondary is still a significant area to watch for the Bills as its truly rebuilt for the first time under McDermott, in addition to wide receiver, defensive tackle and pass-rusher.

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