Examining Bills' financial ties to Branch


PITTSFORD, N.Y. -- As roster cut-down dates approach, one consideration when cutting ties with veteran players is their contracts.

The Buffalo Bills signed defensive tackle Alan Branch to a three-year extension last December, but he appears to be on the roster bubble as the preseason winds down. Branch skipped voluntary OTAs and then failed the conditioning test to begin training camp. He has played sparingly in the preseason, lining up late in the game alongside much younger players.

If the Bills were to release Branch, they essentially would be throwing away the $3.1 million signing bonus they paid him in December. However, that would be the extent of their financial hit from Branch.

Here is how his contract is structured:

2014 season:

Base salary: $1.8 million ($875k guaranteed for injury only)

Signing bonus proration: $775,000

Workout bonus: $100,000

2015 season:

Base salary: $1.7 million

Signing bonus proraton: $775,000

Roster bonus: $250,000 (if on roster fifth day of league year)

Workout bonus: $100,000

2016 season:

Base salary: $1.9 million

Signing bonus proration: $775,000

Roster bonus: $250,000 (if on roster fifth day of league year)

Workout bonus: $100,000

If Branch is released before Week 1, his base salaries from 2014-2016 would all vanish, as would his workout bonuses (since he wasn't at the facility this offseason, he likely did not receive that bonus). His roster bonuses in 2015 and 2016 would also be null.

The only charge against the Bills' cap this season would be his $775,000 signing bonus proration. Since the release would fall after June 1, his 2015 and 2016 signing bonus prorations would count against the 2015 cap, so the Bills would have $1.55 million in "dead money" next season.

Overall, the Bills would free up $1.9 million against their cap this season by releasing Branch.