It apparently was supposed to have been the "plane ride of shame" when Sean McDermott sent injured defensive tackle Marcell Dareus home before the Buffalo Bills' preseason game against the Baltimore Ravens Saturday night for an undisclosed violation of team rules.
Exactly how much of a punishment the coach administered when he let Dareus know he didn't even want him around the team for a game in which he wasn't going to play due to a sore hip is highly debatable. Dareus' response Sunday to my question about the travel arrangements seemed to say it all.
First, he laughed. Then, he said, "The Bills do very well," with an indication that the 6-foot-3, 331-pound Dareus not only wasn't left to find his own way home but also had something far better than a middle-row seat in the back of the plane.
What isn't a joke is that McDermott and general manager Brandon Beane know they have their hands tied by Dareus' contract if they wanted to do anything more drastic than prevent him from traveling with the team. (Ironically, according to an NFL source, part of what prompted the discipline was Dareus' missing all of the team buses that transported the Bills from their Baltimore hotel to M&T Bank Stadium, thus resulting his arriving, on his own, later than McDermott preferred).
According to Spotrac.com, cutting Dareus would result in the Bills being stuck with $24.4 million in dead-cap space this year and $14.2 million next year.
Trading him would require another team wanting to take on a $16.4-million cap hit this year, which seems highly unlikely, while the Bills would still have to deal with a large chunk of dead-cap space ($6.65 million this year and $14.2 million next year) occupied by a player no longer on the team.
And the only way such a trade would happen would be if the Bills chose to accept nothing, or virtually nothing, in return because the other club would be doing them by favor by taking Dareus off their hands. It could very well resemble the Houston Texans' offseason trade in which they sent quarterback Brock Osweiler and his $16-million guaranteed salary (along with second- and sixth-round draft picks) to the Cleveland Browns, who are going to start rookie DeShone Kizer instead.
When I asked McDermott Sunday how much Dareus' deal factored into how he and Beane handled the disciplining of him, the coach – while sticking to his mostly vague approach to the Dareus situation – seemed to acknowledge their quandary.
"These are all the decisions and conversations that Brandon and I have on a daily basis," McDermott said. "That’s part of the job, it goes with the territory. Those are good conversations, important conversations and important decisions for the future of this organization."
Translation: Like it or not, we're pretty much stuck with the big guy.