Despite back-to-back fairly mediocre seasons, Ed Oliver and the Buffalo Bills agreed to a 4 year, $68M contract extension this week, keeping the 25-year-old defensive tackle under term through the 2027 season. The deal tacks on to a previously exercised $10.753M option salary for 2023, combining to create a 5 year, $78.753M deal in total.
The Average Annual Value
In terms of new money/new years, Oliver’s extension rings in at $17M per year, good enough for 11th among active defensive tackle contracts.
Newly Signed Defensive Tackle AAVs
Jeffery Simmons, TEN, $23.5M
Daron Payne, WSH, $22.5M
Dexter Lawrence, NYG, $21.8M
Javon Hargrave, SF, $21M
Ed Oliver, BUF, $17M
Dalvin Tomlinson, CLE, $14.25M
David Onyemata, ATL, $11.6M
Expected upcoming contracts for Chris Jones, Quinnen Williams, Christin Wilkins, & Derrick Brown could push Oliver’s number out of the Top 15 shortly.
The Guarantee Structure
Oliver bags $24.5M fully guaranteed at signing, nearly $14M more than he was previously set to earn on his 5th-year option. The figure ranks 12th among veteran defensive tackle contracts, while the percentage guaranteed (36.07%) is one of the lowest figures currently on the books (Vita Vea, 20.75%).
The $24.5M derives from a $14.75M signing bonus (11th), his $2M 2023 salary, and $7.75M of 2024 compensation.
Things get better quickly for Oliver though, as another $7M of 2024 salary becomes fully guaranteed on February 12th, one day following the upcoming Super Bowl. Five days into the 2024 league year (March 17th), $8.25M of his 2025 salary fully guarantees.
If he’s on the roster for the 5th league day of 2025, another $5.5M of salary fully locks in, for a total $45.278M practically guaranteed, 6th most among active defensive tackles.
The Cash Flow
Oliver will see $16.778M in the first year of this new contract, which ranks 11th among active defensive tackle contracts, and represents a $6.025M raise from his previous compensation. Oliver’s deal includes $500,000 in attainable incentives for the 2023 season.
The $32.4M set to be earned through 2 years currently ranks 10th, as does the $47.128M of 3-year cash built into the contract. This 3 year payout represents the practical outcome for this contract based on guarantee structure, which calculates to a practical average annual value of $15.7M.
$31.6M of this contract (40%) lives in the final two “fluffy” years of this deal.
The Cap Hits
As with most multi-year extensions, Oliver’s new deal provides the team significant cap savings for the upcoming season. In this case, Buffalo frees up $5.775M of space, lower Oliver’s cap hit from $10.753M down to $4.978M.
With the league salary cap set to increase at an extremely high rate over the next 3 seasons, there’s a very realistic possibility that Buffalo gets through the next 3 seasons without ever having to touch this Oliver contract for cap purposes.
The Potential Out
As stated above, the guarantee structure of this contract makes it a 3 year, $47.128M contract for practical purposes. Oliver will need to be on the roster for the 5th league day of 2026 to lock in any more early money (a $1.25M roster bonus).
Can the Bills get out before 2025? Yes, with a little cash on the side.
If Buffalo is forced to make this a one-and-done deal, releasing him after the 2023 season but before February 12th, they’ll owe him an additional $7.75M cash to do so. The Bills can designate Oliver a Post 6/1 release, carry his $9.25M cap hit through the spring, and split up the $19.55M of dead cap into $10.7M for 2024, $8.85M for 2025. Additionally, the $7.75M cash to be paid out contains offset language, so the Bills would be credited back for any earnings Oliver were to take in from another team in 2024.
If the Bills are forced to release Oliver after the 2024 season it will be a similar conversation, but the total dead cap to be dealt with is $26.475M, which includes $8.25M of guaranteed salary. Furthermore, Buffalo would need to carry a $20.75M cap hit through June 1st to designate him accordingly. Doable, but messy.
Assuming Oliver plays out the next three seasons of this contract, Buffalo will be able to outright release him in March of 2026 with a $12.15M dead cap hit, freeing up $10.2M of space immediately.
As with all Buffalo contracts these days, Oliver’s contract isn’t as simple as a signing bonus and a biweekly paycheck.
In addition to a $14.75M signing bonus, Oliver will earn a $12.5M bonus next March, assuming the Bills keep him on the active roster through the 2023-24 Super Bowl.
Per-Game Active Bonus
Starting in 2024 and through the remainder of the contract, Oliver will earn $25,000 every week that he’s on the active roster, for a maximum of $425,000 per year. Any weeks missed in 2023 will represent cap savings for the 2024 season.
Oliver will reel in a healthy $500,000 if he participates in the majority of Buffalo’s offseason program. 31 current Bills players have an offseason bonus built into their contract.
Oliver’s deal contains $500,000 of incentives in 2023, then $750,000 of incentives each of 2024-2027. The specific details of these incentives have not yet been made available to us yet
The timing of this contract seems the most debatable part. The outside world (ourselves included) have had Oliver on the trade block for months, with Buffalo even retaining some of his 5th-year option salary to acquire a better draft pick.
The Bills zagged our zig, shelling out an above average, but nowhere near top of the market, contract for their former #9 overall pick.
In the grand scheme of things, this contract offers very little risk. Assuming this is a 3 years and out scenario as we’ve laid out here, Oliver will account for $47.1M of cap and cash through 2026 (including the dead cap to be taken on that year). If the league salary cap soars to at or around $240M in 2024, Oliver will represent less than 4% of that. A franchise tag for Oliver in 2024 would account for around 9% of the league cap.
Best Case Scenario: Buffalo gets the most out of Oliver in 2023, and they have a bonafide center of the defensive line player under term through 2027, at less than $16M per year (half of what the Top DT market will be by then).