BUFFALO, NY (AP) – Starting linebacker Matt Milano will explore free agency next month due to limitations on Buffalo’s salary cap, a person with direct knowledge of the situation told The Associated Press.
Milano has been a starter since his rookie season in 2017, and his decision is based on the fact that the Bills are not in a position to match the offers he expects to receive once the NFL signing period opens on March 17. His decision was confirmed by the person. who spoke to AP on condition of anonymity because discussions between the player and the team have been private.
Milano is projected to be among the best linebackers available on the market, and the Bills are currently estimated to have only $ 3 million available under a salary cap that is declining due to revenue losses incurred during the coronavirus pandemic.
The league informed teams this week that the minimum limit will be $ 180 million., which is down from $ 198 million last season.
The bills are already expected to create more space by cutting or restructuring existing salaries to address other, more affordable needs, such as the offensive line. The team also needs to free up future cap space to re-sign quarterback Josh Allen, who is coming off an outstanding season and entering the final year of his rookie contract.
General manager Brandon Beane raised the outlook last month of not being able to afford to sign again for Milano.
“Listen, we want to keep good players. Matt is a good player, so we’d love to have him here, ”Beane said. “But again, this right has been earned and we will have to see how it develops.”
Buffalo is coming off a 13-3 result in which they won their first AFC East Division title in 25 years, and reached the conference championship for the first time since 1994.
Milano, 26, was selected by Buffalo in the fifth round of the 2017 draft and became a key contributor when healthy. His versatility at the outside linebacker position to defend against the run and the passing made him a valuable three-down player in Buffalo’s defensive system.
A variety of injuries limited him to appearing in just 11 regular-season games and six starts last year in which Milano still posted his career-highs with 3 1/2 sacks and nine quarterback pressures. Including the playoffs, the Bills were 12-1 with Milano in the lineup last season.
In 2018, he was the only NFL player with at least 75 tackles, three interceptions and three fumble recoveries. Overall, Milano has five interceptions, five fumble recoveries and one forced fumble in 55 career games, including 39 starts.
AJ Klein, who has two years left on his contract, would be a candidate to take over the starting job after replacing Milano this season.
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