BALTIMORE – Buffalo Bills defensive tackle Marcell Dareus has had yet another off-the-field misstep.
Dareus was sent home for a violation of team rules ahead of Saturday's preseason game here against the Ravens.
"He broke a team rule," General Manager Brandon Beane explained a little more than an hour before kickoff. Coach Sean McDermott "and I, you know, we're going to do things the right way. Everybody. Players, coaches, staff, everybody's got a level of expectation, and he didn't meet that. So he won't be on the sidelines tonight."
McDermott said the decision to send Dareus home was made just before the start of the team's 13-9 loss to the Ravens. The coach declined to say what team rule it was that Dareus broke.
Beane said the team has not ruled out the possibility of more discipline, and that he and McDermott will evaluate that upon returning to Buffalo.
"Not sure, to be honest with you," he said. "This was the move we wanted to make today, and we'll talk more about it when we get back to Buffalo."
Dareus, 27, has missed five games over the past two seasons, including four in 2016, because of NFL suspensions related to violations of the league's drug policy. Previously, Dareus had been benched by former coach Doug Marrone for repeated tardiness, as well. Despite those off-the-field issues, previous General Manager Doug Whaley gave him a monster six-year contract extension with $60 million guaranteed.
Since signing that extension before the 2015 season, Dareus has played in 22 games, with 90 tackles and 5.5 sacks.
"It's very disappointing," Beane said. "Any player that you have to send home – this is not the norm. This is not what you're looking for. Obviously a guy with his contract status, you would hope that he would be a better leader than that. Hopefully. he learns from it and moves on and continues to be a Buffalo Bill.
Asked if he needed more from the team's highest-paid player, Beane said, "You would expect that, yes."
Beane's comment about Dareus "hopefully" continuing on as a member of the team seemed to suggest he was keeping open the possibility of that not being the case. Asked if he was exploring those options, the GM said, "No, but everybody's got to be on board, so right now hopefully this is something he'll learn from and everybody will understand the message that Sean and I, we have expectations, we have standards that everybody has to live by, and if you're not, then you're not going to be here."
If the Bills did want to move on from Dareus, they might have a difficult time finding any takers. His litany of off-field issues has sunk his trade value, and cutting him would result in a massive salary-cap hit for the team, both this year and next year.
After Dareus' four-game suspension to start the 2016 season was announced, the Bills issued a news release before their second preseason game that Dareus would enter rehab. It was later revealed that he did not do that, and instead sought treatment for ADHD in addition to working with a life coach.
"We'll assess this when we get back. This obviously just happened today," Beane said when asked how much rope they could give a player like Dareus. "Sean's got to coach a game. We'll talk more about it back there and how we'll move forward."
Beane ruled out the possibility of any NFL discipline, referring to it as a "team matter."
With Dareus not in the locker room after the game, his teammates were left to answer for him – again.
"Marcell is somebody that we need on the field. Probably one of the best players on our team, as far as talent wise, but at the same time, you've got to be able to buy in," linebacker Lorenzo Alexander, one of three captains Saturday, said. "We have certain rules. I'm pretty sure Sean took care of it. I don't know what exactly what happened, but Sean is a black-and-white guy, and if we want to be a great team, everybody has to be accountable, no matter if you the last man on the roster or making the most money.
"It's not a great situation for us, obviously we want Marcell to learn from him, because we need him. Obvioulsy me and Kyle will continue to wrap our arms around him, continue to help him any way that we can as far as just buying in. ... Mistakes happen, but we can't have that lingering into the season or have to continue to talk about things, because it distracts away from what we're trying to accomplish on the field."
During an interview with reporters at the end of the spring, Beane addressed Dareus' checkered past, and what he hoped would be his future.
"Hopefully the new regime, the new culture, the new way of doing things -- what you'd like to see is for Marcell to jump on board, he said at the time. "And not only do it himself, but he's been in the league long enough, you'd like to see him grabbing some others. First of all, before you can lead, you have to do it yourself.
"I'm not just talking about Marcell. That's anybody. But he's gonna be given every opportunity. He is very talented where he was drafted, where he was paid. He's a talented guy, and he's shown what he can do. Obviously it's up to us to try to get that out of him, find out what makes him tick. We got to communicate with him to help put him in the best situation. It's a two-way street. Some of it is on us, some of it is on him. ... I can't say I know him well. But as a player, he's so talented. You want to see him be the leader of that D-line and defense, at some point."