Bills Extend Marcell Dareus for $100 Million over Six Years

Count me among the stunned, but the Bills have locked up defensive tackle Marcell Dareus for the next six years for $100 million and $60 million guaranteed. While the fully guaranteed portion of the contract is not yet known, given the Bills history with some of these bigger deals and their cap situation I would expect the $60 million to be virtually guaranteed and likely all paid out by 2018. The re-signing of Dareus will give the Bills a super-unit in terms of cost with Dareus paired up with Mario Williams ($16M), Kyle Williams ($10M) and Jerry Hughes ($9M) in what will be one of the most, if not the most, expensive rush units ever. 

I had written before about Dareus and the pros and cons of the money he was seeking in relation to his statistical performance, but at the end of the day I think  this deal comes down to precedents. A few years ago the Bills, desperate to create a buzz around the team, went out and signed Mario Williams to what was arguably the most player friendly contract in the NFL. Despite coming off injury and never being the best pass rusher in the NFL, the Bills felt they had no option but to pay Williams a absurd amount of money to play in Buffalo. Even now that contract is basically the standard by which all others are negotiating their cash flow breakdowns. It puts the Bills in a very bad position because there is almost no leg for the front office to stand on when arguing for a lower cost contract for Dareus.

Dareus was also unhappy with his curent contract that was to pay him $7.58 million this season. The Bills really had no need to bring his cap number down and could threaten him with the franchise tag next season. But if you want a group of happy players you get the deal done rather than having it linger. The lone benefit to this contract is the new “guarantee” is just a bit over $53 million, essentially what Williams received in his first three years in Buffalo.

I’d imagine the Bills will use the signing and option bonus mechanisms with this contract since that is what was used with Williams and will make the contract work best with their salary cap. I would also guess that there is languange in the deal not allowing them to recover any bonus money due to his one game suspension.

The Bills investment in Dareus is a pretty clear nod that the team has no belief that any of the QB’s on their roster are worth any type of extension in the near future. I would also say it identifies them as a team that will be finding a way to be aggressive in the draft moving forward when it comes to finding an answer at QB.

This contract, the Williams deal and some of the other recent ones for Justin Houston in Kansas City and Ndamukong Suh in Miami show the benefits of expressing unhappiness with a contract and taking the injury risk of playing out a deal. None of the players compares to JJ Watt who opted to sign a long term contract with two years remaining on his contract in Houston and left millions on the table by doing the early contract. He is now a bargain at the position. Teams that are aggressive with extensions when cap situations are good and players have multiple years remaining will be the ones that get ahead of these other organizations in the future.

  • JB

    Wasn’t the conclusion of the previous article that an AAV of around 15 million would be a good signing for Dareus? 7 years at 15.4 or 6 year extension at 16.6 is not that far off, right? Overall its an incredible amount to spend on one area of the team, but why would you be stunned?

    • Jim

      I think the stunned part is, Dareus had little to no leverage (other than pouting) for getting more than $16/yr (since that’s approx. what the franchise tag will be next year), yet the Bills gave him more than that, with tons of long-term guarantees.

      • buk

        The problem is Dez and Houston got their money anyway because of their threats to not sign franchise tender and not report to the team. So there is risk you don’t have the player but you have the tag hit taking up a huge part of your cap. It’s not that complicated as the Bills have decided Dareus is the best player(also young) player on their defense so therefore a priority. The Jets have yet to decide who is their best young defensive player they will pay between Wilkerson and Richardson.

    • I thought $15M per year was good for Dareus, not the Bills and a very fair and more than reasonable offer. Going to JJ Watt territory is crazy.

      • buk

        You said on your podcast that this was Rex Ryan team but this also has Whaley written all over it. Whaley is no Idzik as he can read the tea leaves. Last year with new ownership he signed Orton 4 games into the season(reportedly against Marrone’s wishes) to challenge 1st rd pk Manuel who he was involved in drafting. They win 9 games and he survives. Now reports surface it was Whaley who was behind fan fave Jackson getting cut and decision to play hardball with Cassel by releasing him to test the FA market. Guess what, now he can say he made unpopular moves to get Dareus deal done. Idzik not signing Wilkerson to an extension before last year and going through last season with all that cap space did him no favors.
        Also Whaley realizes he’s got a popular defensive coach early in a 27mil deal. Whaley will have no friendly alliances with Rex if Dareus turns into a holdout/franchise war next year and that affects their ability to use tag as leverage to sign top corner Gilmore. Dareus deal is par for the course same as Tannenbaum made splash with Suh deal but Philbin takes the fall if Dolphins don’t make the playoffs this year.
        Jury is out on Whaley/Rex and they will eventually be judged on QB. I think Hughes deal seems very reasonable after what Houston and Dareus got. Also that was a brilliant trade by Whaley to get Hughes from Colts who gave up on him.

      • buk

        After looking at OTC cap space the Bills are not in a terrible position over the next 2yrs. Mario Williams has a combined cap hit of 36,400,000 2016 and 17 but only a total of 8.6mil is guaranteed money. So they can cut him easily of he gets hurt or goes into decline rework his last few years into a much lower ihit in exchange for some more guaranteed money. Just another reason you want Dareus deal now as Bills could part ways with Williams next year save 13mil on next year’s cap and still sign a good younger player defensive player in FA. If they release Harvin that’s another 10 mil off their cap.
        As a Jet fan i’m concerned we have 10 offensive lineman on our roster probably because Jets GM is looking for cheap replacements for Colon,Mangold and Ferguson next year. Problem is none of Idzik picks are good enough to start on O-Line. Cro woud look like an easy cut and 8 mi saved next year except Milliner and McDougle you can’t trust to replace him. Then we have Snacks and Mo headed for FA next year and we can’t trust Sheldon while it looks more obvious that the Jets will have to let former 1st rd pick Coples walk. We’ve also go no tight end . Jets are not in a good salary cap position since the Izdik era produced almost no lower cost productive young talent to help churn the roster.

  • Jim

    And our first holdout candidate for 2016 is… Jerry Hughes!

  • buk

    This really is not surprising given the Mario Williams contract(which Jason cited) but also the fact that Suh and Wilkerson are in the same division and contracts will inevitably be compared. Forgetting off the field concerns Dareus is a slightly better player than McCoy and Wilkerson but younger and lesser known than Suh. As a Jet fan this highlights yet another failure of Idzik to extend Wilkerson before this market got out of hand. Instead he chose to trade for Harvin midseason which cost s 7 mil in cap space and a draft pick for a player no longer with the team and chose to extend Kerley(which I said at the time was a dumb move) which the new regime wants to cut.
    Bills made the tough and smart call by cutting Jackson and bringing back Cassel at a reduced price. By cutting Harvin next year they save 10 mil and could rework Clay’s contract so they could resign Bradham and Gilmore. Their QB situation is unsettled like most teams but they have rights to Taylor and Manuel at low cost through next year. I’d be shocked if they draft another QB next year.

  • McGeorge

    As a Jets fan I think this was a great move by the Bills , and I hope that Miami does similar deals 😉

    Wilkerson will want JJ Watt money now. I hope they can trade him for something good.

    • buk

      Wilkerson must be feeling disrespected about now if he’ human and looking at payday for Dareus,McCoy and Suh. Fact is the Jets came into the offseason with like 50 mil in cap space to spend and they did not extend Mo and drafted Leonard Williams. With Rex gone and having to play out his option year he’ll have no loyalty to the current Jet regime. My guess if he’s smart he’ll play hard when he’s 100% healthy but when he’s not 100% he should sit out games rather than risk further injury or diminished stats.
      NFL is business and it cuts both ways.

      • McGeorge

        If Wilkerson sits out games, he doesn’t put up big numbers, plus he may acquire a reputation of not trying hard all the time. So there is a risk in doing that as well.

        I was hoping the Jets could have reached a deal right after the end of last season. Since they blew their cap surplus, it wouldn’t surprise me if he eventually end up leaving, since he wont get paid JJ Watt money (I hope)