As the Buffalo Bills move through their offseason to-do list of adding players before the draft, they’re focusing more of their attention on taking care of their own.
Next up: Doing a contract extension with defensive tackle Marcell Dareus, arguably the best or one of the best players on the team.
When will it happen?
“In the near future,” General Manager Doug Whaley said. “He will be priority No. 1 once the dust settles post-draft, maybe even before then, just to get the ball rolling.”
Dareus, selected to the Pro Bowl in each of the past two seasons, has one year left on the rookie contract he signed when the Bills made him a first-round draft pick in 2011. The Bills decided to pick up the deal’s fifth-year option, which calls for Dareus to be paid $8.06 million.
In light of Dareus’ status as one of the game’s best players at his position and the six-year, $114-million contract (including $60 million guaranteed) to which the Miami Dolphins recently signed free-agent defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, the Bills will be discussing some massive numbers in the negotiations.
The team is expected to do an extension that would provide a hefty payout of guaranteed money to Dareus, but would also allow the Bills to amortize those dollars over the life of the agreement to allow it to fit under their salary cap.
According to information recently obtained by The News, the Bills, after an offseason of aggressive spending, are $5.28 million under the cap.
To create the cap room to accommodate anything more than some minimum-salaried players who would be added via free agency, the Bills would figure to restructure their deal with defensive end Mario Williams. Three years remain on Williams’ agreement, which calls for him to make $19.4 million this year, $19.9 million next year, and $16.5 million in 2017.
“He could free up the most and make it the most logical, because what we would do is not only restructure, but extend him similar to” what the Bills recently did with defensive tackle “Kyle Williams, so these guys retire as Buffalo Bills,” Whaley said. “We want to set a precedent that we retain our own and we have them retire as Buffalo Bills. I think that’s a sentiment we’re trying to show the players on our roster now.
“Not only are we getting good players, but we’re retaining our good players as long as possible. And everybody wins. Mario gets a couple of more years, he’s going to retire a Buffalo Bill, and we get some cap relief.”