For the third time in the last four years, the Buffalo Bills’ offseason plans will be pondered following a playoff loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. It’s a feeling that the Bills and their fans know – in a phrase dubbed by Chiefs super fan Taylor Swift – all too well. But is this offseason going to be different? Can they remain among the AFC’s elite or is Buffalo’s Super Bowl window closed?
Bills Offseason Plans for the 2024 Season
If we do a proper Bills season review, this could be considered a successful season. Buffalo was once 6-6 and barely hanging on in the playoff race. But the Bills turned things around amidst a slew of injuries, won five in a row to finish the regular season, and won the AFC East for the fourth straight season.
However, after five straight trips to the playoffs under Sean McDermott, the window to win a championship could be closing. Are the Bills poised to remain a genuine contender in 2024?
For starters, the Bills have a long list of players heading into free agency. Veteran safety Micah Hyde could be gone after seven years in Buffalo. The Buffalo defensive line could also require wholesale changes with Leonard Floyd, Shaq Lawson, A.J. Epenesa, Jordan Phillips, and DaQuan Jones all scheduled to become free agents.
The Josh Allen Situation
Josh Allen is in no way past his prime or no longer capable of playing at a championship level. He put together another strong campaign in 2023 and gave the Bills a chance to advance deep in the playoffs. He’ll be 28 at the start of the 2024 season and still looks like a quarterback who’s more than capable of winning a Super Bowl.
The caveat is that he’s going to start taking up more of Buffalo’s salary cap. Allen was an $18.6 million cap hit in 2023 with that number jumping to $47.1 million in 2024. That will contribute to the Bills having the fourth-greatest salary cap deficit in the NFL at the start of the offseason. In other words, the Bills won’t have much payroll flexibility to surround Allen with the help he needs to lead Buffalo to a Super Bowl.
The good news for the Bills is they can expect to get better in 2024 just by getting healthy. Once again, cornerback Tre’Davious White was absent from Buffalo’s playoff run because of an injury.
The Bills also saw a rash of injuries at linebacker in 2023, most notably to Matt Milano. The team entered the Divisional Round of the playoffs with just four healthy linebackers. By simply hitting the reset button in 2024 and getting healthy, the Bills will start to feel better about where they stand at certain positions.
As mentioned, the Bills will enter the offseason with a huge salary cap deficit. Therefore, Buffalo’s offseason will likely begin with trading or cutting key players to get under the cap.
Defensively, White and safety Jordan Poyer are potential salary cap casualties. The same is true for offensive linemen Mitch Morse and Dion Dawkins. Buffalo will likely have to cut several players to get under the cap before starting to rebuild the roster for 2024.
Is the Window Closed?
As long as the Bills have Allen in his prime, it’s hard to argue that their championship window is closed. Despite being foiled by the Chiefs three times in the last four years, Buffalo has come close to topping the perennial AFC favorites. Allen is still at a point in his career when he’s capable of carrying the Bills on his back if needed.
However, it’s impossible to ignore the fact that Buffalo’s offensive line, defensive line, and secondary could all undergo wholesale changes during the offseason. The offensive skill players around Allen will be largely the same. But the rest of the roster will likely be weaker and need to be rebuilt over multiple off-seasons. That doesn’t close the window for the Bills, although Buffalo’s chances of winning a championship next season will be greatly diminished compared to past seasons.