The News will examine 10 questions facing the Buffalo Bills leading up to the start of training camp.
By Tyler Dunne
NEWS SPORTS REPORTER
If only there was video footage of Buffalo Bills General Manager Doug Whaley and Marcell Dareus the moment news broke of Ndamukong Suh’s $114 million contract. One had to be thrilled, the other not so much.
The bulldozing defensive tackle Dareus enters the final year of his rookie contract and the timing couldn’t be more perfect for him.
Dareus is fresh off a career season, allowing him to use Suh’s historic number at the negotiating table. Whaley said in March that re-signing Dareus long term is “priority No. 1,” but no deal is done yet. So considering they’re both in the AFC East, who would you rather take? A compelling case can be made for either.
One NFL personnel executive sees Dareus on the level of Suh, Tampa Bay’s Gerald McCoy and the best in the game.
“Yeah, he’s probably as good as those guys,” the executive said. “You hear more about Suh. Suh probably has a little bit better of a pass rush, down in and down out, but it’s D-tackle. You can find film of Suh where he’s not going all out, either. Marcell’s a big dude who can do everything.”
Suh has the name recognition – albeit with a stomp here and a kick to the groin there – with his menacing mean streak and ability to change a game at any moment. He led the attitude adjustment in Detroit. The Lions were 2-30 the two seasons before taking him second overall in the 2010 draft and then went 6-10, 10-6, 4-12, 7-9 and 11-5 in his five seasons.
In 2015, the Lions had the best run defense in the NFL … and it wasn’t even close. With Suh as the anchor, Detroit surrendered only 69.3 rushing yards per game and a ridiculously low 3.2 yards per carry – the lowest average in the NFL since 2007.
And Miami rewarded him with a six-year, $114 million contract that includes $59.955 million guaranteed.
Can Buffalo afford another $100 million player on its defensive line? Mario Williams has a cap number of $19.4 million this season and the Bills may need to restructure his deal to free up cap room for Dareus.
As for Dareus, he has a strong case to make. His sack total has increased from 5.5 (twice) to 7.5 to 10 last season. Demanding double-teams at a nimble 331 pounds, he has helped free up both Williams and Jerry Hughes. Further, he might be the No. 1 reason the Bills’ run defense has finished 11th and fifth the last two years.
Dareus may play with better hands than Suh, leveraging, shucking and throwing linemen with regularity. Wider than Suh, with a motor that doesn’t flicker as much, he’ll control a gap with more regularity.
Rewind his sack in a 17-16 win over Minnesota last year. First, Dareus shoved away Charles Johnson off the snap, as Johnson lost his balance and faded away. Then, he ripped around 6-foot-7 Matt Kalil with ease to take down quarterback Teddy Bridgewater.
At 25 years old, Dareus probably has more years in his prime left than the 28-year-old Suh.
“We’ll wait and see what the Bills do,” Dareus said earlier in the offseason. “It weighs on me heavily. Heavily. I’ve got to go out there and really perform and do what I have to do, which I always do – really have fun with it. Whatever the outcome is, is the outcome.”