When I asked one former NFL VP of Player Personnel about whether or not he thought Mario Williams would wind up in Buffalo because other teams didn’t have enough cap space to sign him, the VP responded, “Oh, they wanted to sign him. They were just waiting for him to get out of Buffalo.”
But Williams never left Buffalo.
The Bills signed the edge rusher to a six-year, $100 million contract on Thursday, which also includes $50 million guaranteed. The deal almost puts Julius Peppers’ six-year, $84 million contract with the Bears to shame, which is saying something.
Williams becomes the first ever defensive player to net a $100 million contract and he’ll have the opportunity to move back to his natural position at defensive end in Buffalo’s new 4-3 defense. Considering they also feature safety Jarius Byrd and 2011 second overall pick Marcell Dareus, the Bills are certainly moving in the right direction on that side of the ball.
And landing Williams was the ultimate coup. Considering he spent three days in Buffalo, one would assume he received an initial offer from the Bills and had his agent shop that price around to other teams. In the end, I can imagine Buddy Nix sitting in his office while speaking to Williams’ representatives and saying, “What’s it going to take to wrap this deal up? One hundred mil? Done – sign the paper.”
The Bills accomplished what other teams probably set out to, which was to put on a full court press and make sure Williams didn’t leave the city without signing a contract first. They had to. Buffalo isn’t exactly an attractive place to play so the Bills had to pony up in order to land the top free agent on the market. Give them credit for zeroing in on a valuable piece and not balking over a couple of million a year, because they certainly didn’t have the luxury to do so. Premier pass rushers don’t fall off trees, nor do they become available very often. And when they do, they probably don’t look at Buffalo as the ideal landing spot.
It’s probably safe to say that the Bills will only go as far as Ryan Fitzpatrick will take them, but under Nix they’re finally spending money and retaining their own. (Receiver Steve Johnson got a new contract this offseason, as did linebacker Kirk Morrison.) They may not have enough overall talent to slay the Patriots yet, but you have to like what’s going on in Buffalo right now.