Bills LB Matt Milano egregiously listed as an NFL 'cut candidate'

One outlet has stated that the Buffalo Bills may look to cut former All-Pro linebacker Matt Milano ahead of the 2024 NFL season.
Buffalo Bills Matt Milano makes a face as he watches the action on the large screen hanging over the field.  The Bills hosted the Cincinnati Bengals in their division playoff game and lost, Jan. 22, 2023.

Bills Matt Milano
Buffalo Bills Matt Milano makes a face as he watches the action on the large screen hanging over the field. The Bills hosted the Cincinnati Bengals in their division playoff game and lost, Jan. 22, 2023. Bills Matt Milano / Tina MacIntyre-Yee/Rochester Democrat

“Sensationalism” is defined by the good folks over at Oxford Dictionary as “the use of exciting or shocking stories or languages [in writing] at the expense of accuracy, in order to provoke public interest or excitement;” it’s, essentially, writing that purposefully twists—or flat out ignores—reality in order elicit a reaction from a crowd, a tactic that’s deemed successful if people are talking about a particular piece regardless of what they’re saying.

With that completely unrelated aside out of the way, Bleacher Report recently published an article titled “5 Cut Candidates Who Should Be on Every NFL Team’s Radar,” a piece in which writer Alex Kay looks around the league and identifies five players who he feels may be shown the door by their respective teams this summer. The analyst circled Buffalo Bills linebacker Matt Milano as a potential release candidate, citing the 29-year-old’s recent injury history as the primary motivation for the potential move.

“[Milano’s 2023 tibia fractucre] could hinder Milano's ability to play at a high level and may spell the end of his tenure in western New York,” Kay wrote. “While the Boston College product was cleared to practice a few weeks ago, he's still far from fully healthy and it remains to be seen if he'll be able to return to form in an age-29 season. If he can't, the Bills have contingency options in place. Buffalo has invested a hefty amount of capital in each of the last three drafts into the linebacking corps—including using a pair of third-round picks on Dorian Williams and Terrel Bernard—and could turn Milano's starting spot over to one of those promising youngsters.

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“Milano's release would save Buffalo nearly $10 million this year, an appealing amount for a team that ranks in the bottom quarter of the league in cap space with just a shade over $8 million available at this juncture. If Milano is released, plenty of teams in need of an elite linebacker should come calling. He's consistently rated among the NFL's best at his position in recent years—especially in coverage—and could bounce back to full strength after a serious injury.”

It’s a… bold prediction from Kay, but one that we can pretty confidently predict is not going to come to fruition this summer. Milano’s recent availability (as the writer notes) hasn’t been the most consistent, as he missed the vast majority of the 2023 campaign after fracturing his tibia in a Week 5 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars; that said, Milano’s availability has always been a bit of a question mark, as he’s missed at least one game due to injury in all but one of his seven professional seasons. This hasn’t put his roster status into question in the past, and it certainly doesn’t now, especially in an offseason in which head coach Sean McDermott has consistently praised his work ethic with regard to his rehabilitation and excitement in seeing him back on the field.

Bills linebacker Matt Milano returns this interception 43 yards for a touchdown against the Titans.
Bills linebacker Matt Milano returns this interception 43 yards for a touchdown against the Titans. / JAMIE GERMANO / USA TODAY NETWORK

Buffalo has invested significantly into its linebacker corps in recent years, selecting Terrel Bernard and Dorian Williams in back-to-back third rounds before selecting Washington defender Edefuan Ulofoshio in the fifth round of the 2024 NFL Draft, but the presence of these players in no way suggests an immediate desire to move on from Milano. Bernard is actually slated to start alongside the veteran again this season, while Williams and Ulofoshio—while perhaps factoring into the ultimate succession plan at weakside linebacker—project as immediate special teamers. Moving on from a player who is just a year removed from a first-team All-Pro nod who, when healthy, has proven to be one of the league’s most impactful defenders in favor of what amounts to a shot at the dartboard does not seem wise.

And that’s potentially the biggest issue with the writer’s analysis—they acknowledge how good Milano is and how impactful he is when available, even writing that “plenty of teams” would have interest in him and that he “could bounce back to full strength.” If this is the case, why would the Bills cut him? Why would Buffalo willingly part ways with a defender who has been arguably its most impactful over the past several seasons when he’s still in his prime? And even if the team did have a desire to move him, why wouldn’t they trade him if “plenty of teams” would be interested? If the primary motive for cutting a recent All-Pro who epitomizes everything this regime looks for in a linebacker is gaining “$10 million” in immediate salary cap space, then the thinking is fundamentally flawed.

Related: Bills' All-Pro Cornerback Warns Opponents about Matt Milano's Return

And even that may not be accurate, as according to Over The Cap, the Bills would save only $380,000 by releasing Milano post-June 1. The specific number is largely irrelevant, however—if the primary asset Buffalo would receive in exchange for Milano would be “cap space,” then it’s not a move the team should consider making.

matt milano
New York Jets quarterback Zach Wilson (2) throws the ball as Buffalo Bills linebacker Matt Milano (58) tackles him during the first half of the home opener at MetLife Stadium on Monday, Sept. 11, 2023, in East Rutherford. / Danielle Parhizkaran/ /

Kay—and all writers—are ultimately entitled to their own opinions, but the idea of the Bills outright cutting Milano this offseason seems farfetched. He’s an incredibly dynamic sideline-to-sideline linebacker who is arguably Buffalo’s most important defender when healthy—it’s true that his health remains a question mark, but every available sign indicates that the Bills will give him at least the 2024 season to prove there’s still tread on the tire. 

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Kyle Silagyi