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.