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Josh Allen’s contract details, salary cap impact, and bonuses

What is the situation with Josh Allen's contract, and what effect does he have on the Buffalo Bills' salary cap in 2021 and beyond?

What is the situation regarding Josh Allen’s contract and salary as the Buffalo Bills QB nears the end of his fourth season in the NFL? Let’s take a look at the details surrounding Allen’s contract, as well as what that means for the Bills’ salary cap space going forward.

Josh Allen’s contract details and bonuses

Entering his fourth year in the NFL, Allen and the Bills agreed to a six-year, $258 million contract extension. Allen was entering the fourth season of his rookie contract after the Bills had exercised his fifth-year option earlier in the offseason.

Allen’s extension contained $100 million in full guarantees with $150 million guaranteed in total throughout the contract’s lifetime. Interestingly, the deal only contained $16.5 million in signing bonus initially. However, an option bonus of $42.5 million will be paid in 2022.

The reason for using the option bonus to split the signing bonus is to keep Allen’s cap number under control in 2021. The option bonus is fully guaranteed. However, the Bills do not have to carry the $8.5 million in prorated bonus money until 2022.

Allen’s contract extension contains rolling guarantees to reach the full $150 million. His $6 million roster bonus in 2024 became fully guaranteed just after the contract was signed back in August. On the fifth day of the 2023 league year, $13.5 million of his 2024 salary — plus a $16.5 million portion of his 2025 roster bonus — becomes guaranteed.

Josh Allen has eight years remaining on his contract

When Allen signed the six-year extension, he was already set to be under contract through the end of the 2022 season. Therefore, including 2021, Allen is technically under contract for eight years with the Bills.

The first year of Allen’s extension will take effect in 2023, and he is set to be a free agent in 2029. At that point, he would be 32 years old.

What impact does Allen’s deal have on the Bills’ salary cap?

The Bills made sure to keep Allen’s salary cap value under control in 2021. There was still $3.4 million in prorated bonus from the original signing bonus that needed to be counted against the cap, plus $920,000 in salary and a $2.6 million roster bonus that had already been paid.

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That is why the Bills included both a $16.5 million signing bonus in 2021 and an option bonus in 2022. By keeping the signing bonus to $16.5 million, the Bills added just another $3.3 million to their 2021 salary cap via Allen’s contract. The option bonus will then start to take effect in 2022, by which point his rookie signing bonus will be off the contract.

What does the future of this contract look like for the Bills?

The Bills have ensured that the next two years of Allen’s contract will be cap-controlled. His salary cap figure rises to $16.4 million in 2022 before ballooning in 2023, and it’ll rise again in 2025. Here are Allen’s salary cap numbers throughout the life of the contract.

  • 2021: $10.2 million
  • 2022: $16.4 million
  • 2023: $39.8 million
  • 2024: $41.8 million
  • 2025: $51.3 million
  • 2026: $47 million
  • 2027: $40 million
  • 2028: $41.6 million

The Bills’ first real opportunity to move on from Allen’s contract would come after the 2025 season. The rolling guarantees make it virtually impossible to do so before that. Dead money numbers would be upward of $40 million or more.

Once we reach the 2026 league year, there is no more guaranteed money in Allen’s contract. Thus, the Bills could release him and take on just $8.5 million in dead money. In the 2026 season, that would represent a cap savings of around $38 million. However, there is every chance the Bills restructure Allen’s contract at least once between now and then, which would alter that equation heading into 2026.

Ben Rolfe is a Senior Managing Editor at Pro Football Network and is also a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association (FSWA). You can find him on Twitter @BenRolfePFN.

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