The Buffalo Bills added some versatility to their offensive line Thursday.
A league source confirmed to The Buffalo News that the team has agreed to a one-year contract with former Carolina Panthers offensive lineman Daryl Williams. NFL Network was first to report the agreement.
Williams, 27, has played both tackle and guard for the Panthers, who chose him in the fourth round of the 2015 NFL draft. After playing out his four-year rookie contract with Carolina, Williams signed a one-year deal to remain with the Panthers in 2019.
He started four games at left tackle, five at left guard and three at right guard in 2019. Of his 838 snaps last season, he played 412 at left guard, 218 at right guard, 173 at left tackle, 45 at right tackle and two at tight end – the type of versatility the Bills' coaching staff likes. He was in for 570 pass-blocking snaps and 268 run-blocking snaps. For his career, Williams has appeared in 56 games, with 41 starts.
Bills General Manager Brandon Beane and coach Sean McDermott haven't been shy about tapping into their Carolina connections this offseason. Williams is the fifth former member of the Panthers who played there while Beane was a member of the front office and McDermott was the defensive coordinator, joining cornerback Josh Norman, linebacker A.J. Klein, defensive end Mario Addison and defensive tackle Vernon Butler. The Bills have also re-signed cornerback E.J. Gaines and running back Taiwan Jones this offseason. They are both players who have been with the franchise in previous years – another sign of how familiarity has played an important role in roster building for the Bills' front office.
While terms of Williams' contract have not been released, it would be a surprise if it was a big-money deal. That's because he's coming off an exceptionally tough season, at least according to analytics website Pro Football Focus. Williams was charged by PFF with allowing 12 sacks, second most in the NFL behind only Atlanta's Kaleb McGary (13). Williams had an overall grade of 56.1, with a pass-blocking grade of 64.7 and run-blocking grade of 46.2.
If Williams, 6-foot-6 and 330 pounds, can return to the form he showed in 2017, he'll be a big addition for the Bills. He started all 16 games at right tackle three years ago, and was named a second-team All-Pro. A knee injury during training camp in 2018, however, has largely derailed Williams' career since then. He suffered a dislocated kneecap and torn ACL, but returned for the 2018 season opener. He reinjured the knee in the fourth quarter and ultimately needed surgery, ending his season after just one game.
— Cody Ford ✞ (@Cody_Ford74) March 26, 2020
Williams projects at the moment as the Bills' fourth offensive tackle and a backup option at guard. His signing makes it unlikely that the Bills would resign tackle LaAdrian Waddle, who spent all of last season on the team's injured reserve.
The Bills return all five starters along the offensive line with the combination of Ford and Nsekhe being joined by left tackle Dion Dawkins, left guard Quinton Spain, center Mitch Morse and right guard Jon Feliciano. Spencer Long, the top interior reserve offensive lineman from last season, is also back.
New rules allow NFL teams to dress 48 players on game days, up from 46. Of those 48, at least eight of them have to be offensive linemen. The Bills dressed seven offensive linemen for most games last year. Williams' ability to play tackle or guard makes him a logical eighth lineman.
Story topics: 2020 NFL free agency/ Brandon Beane/ cody ford/ Daryl Williams/ Dion Dawkins/ Jon Feliciano/ Josh Norman/ Mario Addison/ Mitch Morse/ Quinton Spain/ Sean McDdermott/ Spencer Long/ Ty Nsekhe/ Vernon Butler