The Bills will have a lot more cash to play with this weekend now.
Buffalo released its richest player, Derrick Dockery, Thursday in a major cap-clearing deal. Just two years ago, the Bills made Dockery their highest-paid player ever with a $49 million contract.
The team also cut ties with tight end Robert Royal, who signed a four-year, $10 million contract in 2006. Royal never evolved into the pass-catching threat the Bills envisioned, only catching 23, 25 and 33 passes in his three years.
Of course, the big news is Dockery.
Releasing the mammoth guard is a $5.4 million cap hit for the Bills, but will save $26.25 million in all. Buffalo avoids paying the left guard the $1.75 million roster bonus he was due next week.
"These business decisions are never easy, especially when you are talking about two great individuals in both Derrick and Robert," team COO Russ Brandon said in a team press release. "We thank them for their hard work and dedication in their time as Buffalo Bills and wish them the best of luck in the future."
The 6-foot-6, 335-pound Dockery never materialized into the road-grader then-G.M. Marv Levy expected when he made him a priority two years ago. While Marshawn Lynch did rush for 1,000 yards in each of the past two seasons, Dockery struggled against the 3-4 defenses in the division. The Bills' three straight losses against New England, Miami and New York's 3-4 alignment ultimately doomed their season in 2008.
Dockery was also very inconsistnt in pass protection. Buffalo allowed 38 sacks last season, 10th most in the NFL.
Jason Whittle backed up Dockery last season, but the Bills will most likely fill his vacancy through free agency or the draft. According to ESPN.com's Tim Graham, the team will re-sign versatile lineman Kirk Chambers also. Chambers slid to guard in a pinch last year, starting in Week 10.
Free agency begins at 12:01 a.m. Friday. The Bills will have more than $24 million in cap save to work with.
Stay tuned to the BFR for updates.