Kyle Williams is more than a member of the Buffalo Bills' roster.
He's a fixture with the team and in the community. The thought of not being with the Bills for the 2018 season, his 13th with them and in the NFL, was something Williams tried not to consider even though his contract had expired and a new one had to be negotiated.
On Tuesday, the Bills and Williams agreed on a one-year deal worth a reported $6 million – with $5 million guaranteed – for the longest-tenured player on the roster.
"I never really let my mind get too far on any of the, I guess, the doubt or the negative side that this may not work out," Williams said during a conference call with reporters. "I guess I kind of had hoped that it would. Obviously, the closer that we got into, I guess, the sort of ‘what (Wednesday, the start of the league's free-agency period) brings,’ there’s a little bit of stuff that’s creeping in and some outside noise.
"But I really had my focus on what I wanted to happen, what I wanted to do. We were able to get something done where they bring me back and that I think both sides are happy and excited with. We’re ready to just work."
Williams, 34, is the Bills' primary leader. Coach Sean McDermott and General Manager Brandon Beane made it clear from the start of the offseason they wanted him back.
Williams didn't entertain thoughts about retiring. His goal of winning a championship with the Bills remains very much on his mind. He was part of the end of their 17-year playoff drought last season, which resulted in a wild-card appearance that ended in a close loss at Jacksonville.
But he still wants more.
"When it comes down to it, as eloquently as I can put it, I haven’t exhausted myself in the pursuit of what my dream is of playing this game, of playing for this organization, and chasing being a champion," Williams said. "Buffalo is home. It’s where I want to be, it’s where I want to win, and I couldn’t be more excited."
Does Williams' decision to return at least for one season, which could very well be his last in the league, make any sort of statement about how close he feels the Bills are to competing for a title?
It would be hard to fathom, considering how many key areas the team needs to address, including quarterback.
Williams, though, is making no assumptions on what sort of team the Bills will have in 2018.
"Well, obviously there’s a lot of things that haven’t happened and a lot of things that have to play out, but at the same time, you (reporters) know as well as us, I believe whole heartedly that you don’t win championships and you don’t win games on paper, looking at who you have or who you don’t have," Williams said. "That’s why you play the game, that’s why you build a team. That’s why you hold guys accountable to the standard that you have and you try and make it happen. I know there’s a whole lot of things that are going to happen between now and the first time we kick a football off in September.
"So my job now is to get ready to play, to work out and get bigger and stronger, and get ready to go and come in and lead these guys and bring this team as close as I possibly can together. We do have an opportunity here to go chase something like a championship."
Last season, Williams played 756 defensive snaps, or 68.23 percent, which ranked among the most of any of the Bills' defensive players.
He fully intends to be on the field as often as he can this year as well.
"I prepare myself to play as many as I possibly can because, mentality wise, I feel like we’re a better football team when I’m on the field," Williams said. "That’s a reason I’m coming back. I’m coming back to play, I’m not coming back to say, 'Oh, hey, I’ll just play 25, 30 snaps a game and let you guys fight over the rest.
"I’m coming out to play, to compete, to win."