Bills face ‘tough decisions’ with upcoming free agents including LB Matt Milano


Buffalo Bills outside linebacker Matt Milano (58) runs a play in the second half of an NFL football game against the Miami Dolphins, Sunday, Jan. 3, 2021, in Orchard Park, N.Y. (AP Photo/Adrian Kraus)

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (WIVB) – There’s a reason the NFL is considered a 12 month season because there really is no “offseason.”

Even though the Bills are done playing after a loss in the AFC title gae, it’s already time to start thinking about next year and general manager Brandon Beane’s to do list. One of the items on that list, like every year, is what to do with players set to become free agents.

Because of how the pandemic affected the league financially, Beane knows they have some tough decisions to make dealing with a significantly lower salary cap. The name that comes to mind right away is linebacker Matt Milano who is set to become an unrestricted free agent in March.

“We’d love to be able to get Matt back, he knows that, I’ve shared that with him, I’m sure Sean [McDermott] has as well,” Beane said during his end of the season zoom call Wednesday.

“The business side matters and he’s earned the right to go to free agency and see what his market bears but we’ll do our best to retain him and as many guys as we can. I don’t even know the numbers yet and what it’s gonna be.”

The league has not announced what the salary cap will be for 2021 but $175 million is a number that’s been thrown around. If that is around what it ends up being, the Bills won’t have much room to work with.

“There’s gonna be some tough decisions unfortunately for us whether it’s letting guys go on this roster or having to watch guys leave,” Beane said.

Milano has developed into arguably the Bills best defensive player. In his fourth season in the NFL, Milano ended with 45 tackles and a career-high 3.5 sacks. He proved, when healthy, he can be that every down linebacker any team is looking for.

But he’s had trouble staying healthy.

“Matt is a very good player and what a great job he’s done since he came in here to improve from 2017 to now. His biggest thing is just being able to play 16 games, you know that would be the first thing he would tell you,” Beane explained.

Milano suffered a hamstring injury in the season opener against the Jets (he had an interception in that game) that caused him to miss time early in the season. Then he was later placed on injured reserve with a partially torn pectoral muscle. He missed six games because of both of those injuries combined. But when he came back in December, he slowly ramped up his time on the field eventually playing 99% of the defensive snaps in the Bills wild card win against the Colts.

The Bills went 12-1 in the games Milano played with the only loss coming in the AFC Championship game to the Chiefs.

Beane also said is is possible they use the franchise tag on Milano but wouldn’t say one way or the other.

“Anything is [possible], you know we want to keep good players but it will come back to that cap and what we can afford and if it’s $175 we’re right at it right now so definitely some tough moves to make. Listen we want to keep good players, Matt’s a good player so we’d love to keep him here but again he’s earned this right and we’ll just have to see how it plays out,” Beane said.

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