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Bills releasing Jordan Poyer and Mitch Morse. Tre'Davious White also will be cut, AP source says

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) — The Buffalo Bills underwent a drastic makeover on Wednesday, with salary cap constraints forcing the four-time AFC East defending champions to cut into their core by releasing five players, including safety Jordan Poyer and center Mitch Morse.

Also cut was cornerback Tre’Davious White, a person with direct knowledge of the decision told The Associated Press.

The person spoke to the AP on the condition of anonymity because the Bills did not include White in their announcement because of the timing of his release. White, who is recuperating after tearing his right Achilles tendon in Week 4, is being designated as a post-June 1 cut, which provides the Bills additional cap savings.

The three players alone combined for 27 seasons of NFL experience, including 16 with the Bills. The moves were necessary with Buffalo entering the offseason a projected NFL-high $44 million over the salary cap.

Also cut were sixth-year backup cornerback Siran Neal, backup receiver Deonte Harty and running back Nyheim Hines.

The Bills saved another $8.6 million in cap space by restructuring edge rusher Von Miller's contract, a second person with direct knowledge of the deal told the AP. The person spoke on the condition of anonymity because the Bills don't discuss contract discussions. Miller's restructured contract was first reported by ESPN.com.

Buffalo was also able to retain several pending unrestricted free agents. The Bills agreed to re-sign safety Taylor Rapp to a three-year contract, the first person said, speaking on the condition of anonymity because the deal has not been signed. The person said the Bills were also in talks with free agent quarterback Mitch Trubisky to fill the backup job he held in Buffalo in 2022 after spending last season with Pittsburgh.

The Bills announced re-signing backup offensive lineman David Edwards to a two-year contract extension, and punter Matt Haack to a one-year extension.

The players retained were overshadowed by the subtractions.

The depth of cuts was severe and in some cases surprising. But the Bills had a bloated payroll as a result of GM Brandon Beane’s pursuit to build a contender coupled with the heightened costs of retaining star players.

Quarterback Josh Allen, whose six-year, $258 million contract kicked in last season, represents a $47 million salary cap hit alone in 2024. Add in receiver Stefon Diggs and left tackle Dion Dawkins, and the three players' total of $91.5 million makes up nearly 35% of Buffalo’s $255.4 million cap limit.

While Beane expressed relief at the NFL combine in Indianapolis about the cap making a league-record $30.6 million jump entering 2024, he also understood the challenge ahead.

The balancing act for Beane was creating enough flexibility to restock a roster that at the time featured 22 players eligible to become unrestricted free agents, and how much cap money he pushed into the future that could limit his spending in the following seasons.

“Now that we know the cap, we’re working through getting under, and then how much can we create without totally piling up a huge mess in 2025 or ’26,” he said.

The Bills enter a reset period in their transition, with Beane focused on attempting to re-sign edge rushers A.J. Epenesa and Leonard Floyd, and defensive tackle DaQuan Jones, before the signing period officially begins on March 13.

Wednesday's moves, however, can’t be understated.

Most notably, they represent the breakup of a veteran secondary that was formed in 2017, when Buffalo signed Poyer and Micah Hyde in free agency, and then selected White in the first round of the draft a month later. Hyde’s future is uncertain with the 33-year-old contemplating retirement after completing the final year of his contract.

White, who had two seasons left on his contract, is coming off his second season-ending injury after he hurt his right knee in November 2022.

Morse spent five seasons in Buffalo, where he established himself as the offensive line’s unquestioned leader while building a close bond with Allen. Morse had one year left on his contract, and was signed in free agency after spending his first four seasons with Kansas City.

Morse expressed surprise when asked if he might be cut a day after the Bills' season ended following a 27-24 loss to Kansas City in a divisional round playoff game.

“I wasn’t expecting that question,” Morse said. “If they have me back I’ll be back. So that’s the plan and looking forward to that, but right now, that’s not where my head’s at.”

Poyer, meantime, had an inkling his time in Buffalo was approaching an end. Before the game against Kansas City, Poyer and Hyde, joined by nickel back Taron Johnson, made it a point to run onto the field together for what they considered could be one last time.

Rapp, who spent his first four seasons with the Los Angeles Rams before signing with Buffalo a year ago, will get an opportunity to take over one of the starting jobs.

The 26-year-old Edwards, who appeared in all 17 games in a backup role last season, is projected to take over at left guard, with Connor McGovern making the switch to replace Morse at center.

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AP NFL: https://apnews.com/hub/nfl