Marcell Dareus’ time with the Buffalo Bills — a six-year mix of dominant play, underachievement and bad behavior off the field — has come to an end.
Days before Tuesday’s NFL trading deadline, the Bills sent Dareus to the Jacksonville Jaguars on Friday night in exchange for a 2018 conditional sixth-round draft pick. That can become a fifth-round pick if Dareus is on the roster for the remainder of the season and the Jaguars make the playoffs, according to Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports.
Dareus is scheduled to fly to Florida to take a physical to officially complete the deal.
General Manager Brandon Beane told reporters during a conference call that the Jaguars called the Bills on Friday to make the deal. "We thought about it and talked it through as an organization and decided it was a good move for the Bills and a good move for Marcell," Beane said.
Beane also said the Bills were not making calls to other teams about Dareus.
"I know people suspected maybe we were or weren’t (going to trade Dareus)," Beane said. "Quite honestly, (we) had not called anyone. Jacksonville reached out to us and made an inquiry and it kind of went from there.
"But, we’re evaluating everybody through this whole process. He definitely would’ve been a guy we would’ve talked about after the season (with) how does he fit going forward, but this opportunity came up and again, we thought it was a win for Marcell and obviously for the Bills as well."
The move reunites Dareus with former Bills coach Doug Marrone, who is now the Jags' head coach.
The deal ends a star-crossed tenure in Buffalo for Dareus, who was the third overall pick in the 2011 draft and was the Bills' highest-paid player. He signed a six-year, $96 million extension in 2015.
By making the trade, the Bills shave $5.375 million off of their salary cap in 2017 and $2.375 million next year. The remaining three seasons of Dareus' contract, from 2019 to 2021, no longer will be the Bills' responsibility.
"Every decision, from a roster standpoint you make, definitely you have to consider what it does to your cap immediately and what it does in future years," Beane said. "I'd be lying if I didn't say that was not in the equation."
Dareus had his best game of the season in the Bills' 30-27 victory against Tampa Bay on Sunday, making five tackles and seeing more playing time.
Dareus had Pro Bowl seasons in 2013 and '14 , which established him as one of the NFL's best defensive tackles. He finished the 2014 season with 49 tackles and a career-high 10 sacks. But he then was suspended for the first game of the 2015 season for a substance abuse violation – and wasn’t the player he had been before receiving his huge contract. He was later suspended for the first four games of the 2016 season for a second violation.
Beane acknowledged that Dareus was a "question mark" when he and coach Sean McDermott took over the Bills' football operation.
"When you come into a new city and you look at the roster, you obviously look at, OK, he's a guy that you flag for two reasons: 1. He’s a higher salary guy, B. he had a prior history with the suspensions," Beane said. "You do want to see those guys, you know, how they fit, and like I said early on, we probably had some struggles but he’s not a bad person.
"At the end of the day, I wish him the best and I know Sean does and the whole organization does."
Still, Dareus rarely seemed on the same page was Beane and McDermott. Dareus was sent home before the Bills' third preseason game against Baltimore last August for violating team rules.
Asked if that incident was a breaking point, Beane said, "It was very disappointing. It wasn't a breaking point, but as I've said, it was frustrating for Sean and I and the organization, but at the same time we were still trying to work with the young man and, honestly, I thought he did make some strides of late."
With Dareus' departure, the Bills have 22 players, including nine draft picks, on the 53-man roster who were with the organization before Beane and McDermott arrived. Among them are 10 draft picks.
"I’ve said it before, Sean and I aren’t in to just getting our guys on this team and getting rid of people who are not," Beane said. "We’re honestly making every decision on what we think helps the Bills today and tomorrow and that’s the reason for the moves (that have been made)."