The Bills front office continues to impress with their attempts to fix a broken salary cap with a trade of Marcell Dareus to the Jacksonville Jaguars. I almost thought it would be impossible to trade Dareus since he is more or less non-existent as a player and plays on a pretty high priced contract, even considering all the money that the Bills already paid to him.
The move is a salary cap savings bonanza for the Bills assuming they did not have to prepay any of the contract. Dareus still had $5,735,294 in cap charges this year to be paid by the Bills and another $7.35 million guaranteed to him in 2018 when he was certain to be released. So the team saved just under $13.1 million and got a draft pick back to boot for a player with 1 sack and 4 tackles on the year. Of course its not all great news for the Bills who will carry $14.2 million in dead money next year for Dareus, but compared to the alternative it is by far the best case scenario.
The Jaguars have, more or less, an unlimited budget and cap room to use which makes a trade like this not very risky. Jacksonville’s defense has been very good this year and Dareus should not be asked to be much more than a situational player. On top of that he can fill in in the event of injury for one of the other veterans. Perhaps a change of scenery will do him well and help him find some motivation, something he has completely lacked since signing the big contract in 2015. The only real caution for Jacksonville here is doing an early extension thinking they could get him on the cheap as that is putting a great deal of stock in him playing better.
He will count for $5.735 million on the Jaguars cap this year and $10.175 million next year. The 2018 guarantee of $7.35 million transfers to the Jaguars so if they were to release him they would have to pay him that money minus any offset from his signing with another team.
The Dareus contract will go down as one of the all time NFL blunders. Here was my assessment of the contract earlier this year.
“This is one of my least favorite contracts in the entire league. Everything about this contract was just wrong. Buffalo dragged their feet on this extension and then made a late decision to give away the farm when he was unhappy as the regular season began. The Bills basically got taken to the woodshed. A $25 million signing bonus followed by a $7 million option bonus helped him land around $35 million in new money in the first year of his deal, about $9 million more than Ndamukong Suh. What justification the team had for that figure is a great mystery of the universe. They also gave him some incentives since somehow the $95M wasn’t enough on its own. The total guarantee on this contract is $60 million and just about all of it was fully guaranteed the year after he signed it. That type of package is almost unheard of. Dareus was suspended at the time of signing and for whatever reason they failed to include any language that would void future guarantees for another suspension and of course he got suspended again. Since signing the deal Dareus has not shown effort, has clashed with coaches, and has seen his numbers fall. The Bills have no way out until 2019 unless they can find a sucker to trade for him and even then its $7m dead on their cap. I never thought this team would one up their own deal with Mario Williams but they found a way to do a worse one and are paying the price for it.”
At the end of the day the Bills paid Dareus $45.12 million to play in 28 games and produce a grand total of 6.5 sacks and 66 tackles over nearly 2.5 years. It would have been worse except Dareus was suspended for five games. Normally such suspensions would void guarantees in a contract but in this case the Bills, for some reason, did not specify that the suspensions would void Dareus’ guarantees.
Regardless of whether the Bills end up with a winning record this year, Brandon Beane deserves strong consideration as executive of the year. He has just done a tremendous job of finding ways to try to dig out of a hole that most general managers would have been unable or unwilling to dig out of. This is just another great accomplishment for the front office.
Jason is the founder of OTC and has been studying NFL contracts and the salary cap for over 15 years. Jason has co-authored two books about the NFL, Crunching Numbers and the Drafting Stage, which are widely circulated in the industry and hosts the OTC Podcast. Jason’s work has been featured in various publications including the Sporting News, Sports Illustrated, NFL Network and more. OTC is widely considered the leading authority on contract matters in the NFL.