While all eyes are on the Buffalo Bills to see whether they re-sign their top pending free agent Tremaine Edmunds, the team swerved to lock down a different linebacker, veteran Matt Milano.
On Sunday, March 12, the Bills announced they were extending Milano through the 2026 season, which cleared up a much-needed $6 million in cap space, per ESPN‘s Adam Schefter. Buffalo entered the offseason approximately $20 million over the cap, so pre-emptively restructuring Milano’s deal opens a buffer for the Bills to be active when free agency starts.
Bills, LB Matt Milano agree to terms on two-year contract extension. pic.twitter.com/x2UWURkZRU
— NFL (@NFL) March 12, 2023
So, what does this mean for Edmunds? ESPN insider Mike Tannenbaum tweeted, “This is probably a strong indication that @maine_savage23 won’t be returning; it’s incredibly difficult to pay 2 off the ball LB’s significant money.” The Athletic‘s Joe Buscaglia agrees this was a “significant sign” that the Bills are “preparing for life” without Edmunds.
Buscaglia wrote, “Milano is also the better of the two players, though Edmunds is a full four seasons younger than Milano. It’s a potentially ominous clue, though an optimist could think the Bills cleared out cap space in 2023 with the Milano move to help bring Edmunds back. The former seems more likely, but the Bills will have some operating room to bring back Edmunds if they feel the price is right and they don’t want to lose him.”
Milano Still Had 2 More Years Left on His Contract
While Edmuds led the team in total tackles (102), Milano was arguably the overall most impactful defensive player on the Bills roster in 2022. The 28-year-old recorded 99 tackles (72 solo), 1.5 sacks, three interceptions, and 11 pass breakups in 15 games. The extension came as as surprise on Sunday since the All-Pro linebacker still had two years left of his deal and there were other much larger contracts the team could’ve chosen to restructure to clear up cap space. Therefore, the decision to extend Milano does seem like an insurance move in preparation of losing Edmunds in free agency.