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Bills can rest easy this offseason at deep cornerback spot

Continuing a position-by-position look at the Buffalo Bills' roster, with an eye toward free agency and the draft:

Position: Cornerback

2015 snaps:

Stat of note: Opposing quarterbacks completed 45.3 percent of their passes that were intended to wide receivers and thrown beyond the first-down marker against the Bills, the fourth-lowest rate in the NFL.

Pending free agents: Brooks (unrestricted)

2016 cap hits (position rank):

  • Gilmore: $11.082 million (7th in NFL)

  • McKelvin: $4.9 million (32nd in NFL)

  • Robey: $1.608 million

  • Darby: $1.038 million

  • Butler: $600,000

  • Cam Thomas: $525,666

  • Seamster: $525,000

  • Noel: $450,000

Money line: McKelvin's salary stands out because his role did not necessarily match his compensation ($4.9 million) this season. McKelvin, who began the season on the non-football injury list, served as a fill-in safety and later a fourth cornerback until Gilmore suffered a season-ending shoulder injury, at which point McKelvin returned to a starting role. With Gilmore and Darby indisputably the starters again next season and the Bills tight on salary-cap space, cutting McKelvin and saving $3.9 million should be a consideration. However, McKelvin told The Buffalo News late last month that he would be open to a pay cut. Meanwhile, Gilmore enters the fifth and final year of his rookie deal and the Bills are expected to begin exploring an extension with him. Getting that deal done sooner rather than later could mean lowering his relatively high cap number this season; however, Gilmore would hardly be cheap: he's developed into one of the NFL's better, if not best, cornerbacks and is entering the prime of his career.

Market watch: Pending free agents include Josh Norman, Charles Tillman, Sean Smith, Leon Hall, Adam Jones, Prince Amukamara, Jerraud Powers, Janoris Jenkins, Terence Newman, William Gay, Trumaine McBride, Marcus Sherels, Trumaine Johnson, Casey Hayward, Greg Toler, Nolan Carroll, Brandon Boykin, Jeremy Lane, Tracy Porter, Jayron Hosley, Cortland Finnegan, Tarell Brown, Alan Ball, Sterling Moore, Antwon Blake, Darrin Walls, Sherrick McManis, Brooks, Mike Jenkins, Patrick Robinson, Coty Sensabaugh, Kyle Wilson and Crezdon Butler.

Draft need: Low. This position is among the deepest on the roster, along with running back. The Bills have a rising star in Darby, a capable slot cornerback in Robey and a promising depth player in Butler. But general manager Doug Whaley has said he isn't against drafting a cornerback every year, even when the position isn't necessarily a need. The Bills did that with Ross Cockrell in 2014 and Darby last year, and it wouldn't be shocking if they did it again, especially with Gilmore's contract situation. But there are many other more pressing needs across the roster.

Crystal ball: If the Bills can come to an agreement with McKelvin to lower his salary, it seems possible that this group will stay intact for next season. The exception would be Brooks, who posted a goodbye message to Buffalo earlier this month before deleting it, leaving through free agency. Unless Rex Ryan is adamant that the Bills must upgrade from Robey as a nickel back, it's unlikely they'll pursue a veteran free-agent cornerback. The only big question is whether Gilmore's extension gets done this spring or summer or if the situation lingers into next year.

Quote of note: "I know I am an elite corner, I mean, the film don’t lie. I see how the corners out there are supposed to be, the top corners, and I know what I can do. Like I said, the film don’t lie, just keep playing hard for my teammates. Wherever it takes me, it takes me." -- Gilmore, Jan. 4.