Since Sean McDermott took over as Buffalo Bills coach in January and Brandon Beane replaced Doug Whaley as general manager in May, the effects of the regime change have been felt across the roster, coaching staff, front office and around the facility.
Some of the most striking changes involve defensive tackle Marcell Dareus and left tackle Cordy Glenn, the team's two highest-paid players in terms of 2017 salary-cap numbers and total guaranteed money in their massive contracts.
Considered cornerstones of the team by previous management in Buffalo, the two players have been relegated to lesser roles this season, especially in recent weeks.
Dareus played 22 of 66 defensive snaps in Sunday's loss to the Cincinnati Bengals. He did not start and played the third-most snaps among defensive tackles behind Kyle Williams and Adolphus Washington. Dareus also did not start in a Week 4 win over the Atlanta Falcons and played 23 of 75 defensive snaps, third-most among defensive tackles behind Williams and Cedric Thornton.
After Dareus was given limited playing time in Atlanta, the belief was the two-time Pro Bowler was still recovering from an ankle injury that hampered him in Week 2 and kept him out of Week 3. However, McDermott made it clear last week that Dareus was part of a competition at defensive tackle for the first time since he entered the league as the third overall selection in 2011.
"There's great competition on our roster right now and I love that and the players want that," McDermott said Oct. 4. "That's why they work during the week. They understand what's at stake. We're only going to continue. Competition takes everyone's game up a notch. That's good for us."
Glenn is part of a similar situation. He started the first two games before an ankle injury and lingering foot issues kept him out of the next two. He returned Sunday in Cincinnati but did not play a single snap, with rookie Dion Dawkins retaining duties as the starting left tackle.
"We're going to continue to evaluate that," McDermott said Monday when asked about the position. "[Dion has] done a really nice job at that left tackle position. He's going up against some good pass-rushers on that side of the ball and he's got some plays that he wants back and so we're going to continue to evaluate that moving forward."
Between the single-game salaries for Glenn ($529,411) and Dareus ($573,529), the Bills are paying their two highest-paid players a total of $1.1 million for each game and getting dwindling contributions.
Such cost inefficiency seems to be the price of doing business for Beane and McDermott, who are attempting this season to find the best players to keep as they build for the future.
"This bus is moving and at the end of this year, we're going to have a pretty good feel for who's on the bus and who's not, and everyone knows that, I would hope," McDermott told NFL.com last month.
The Bills' regime does not appear to care much for Whaley's evaluations of Dareus or Glenn, or the financial commitment the ex-GM made to either player. In September 2015, the Bills gave Dareus a six-year extension that averages $15 million per season with $60 million guaranteed. In May 2016, Glenn received a four-year extension worth over $11 million per season with $36 million guaranteed.
There has not been hesitation in Buffalo to rock the boat or wipe the slate clean -- that was made clear with the trade of Sammy Watkins in August -- and it would not be surprising at this point to see the tenure of Dareus or Glenn -- or both -- end in the foreseeable future.
Moving either player by the Oct. 31 trade deadline would be feasible under the salary cap but would require another team to be willing to take on several years of expensive base salaries for either player.
Glenn is due $9.25 million in 2018, $7.25 million in 2019 and $7.5 million in 2020, in addition to $2 million roster bonuses each year. Dareus is set to earn $9.925 million in 2018, $8.335 million in 2019, $12.35 million in 2020 and $12.4 million in 2021, in addition to $2 million roster bonuses each season beginning in 2019.
If a trade of either player this season -- or even next offseason -- is realistic, it could require the Bills giving up a draft pick, much like the Houston Texans did to unload Brock Osweiler's contract this past offseason.
If the Bills cannot find a trade partner, they could consider releasing either Dareus or Glenn. Doing so this season would be extremely difficult under the salary cap because of the acceleration of future guaranteed salaries into the 2017 salary cap, but such moves should be possible next offseason.