Mario Williams (US-Presswire)
The Mario Sweepstakes is over the the winner is... the Buffalo Bills. Buffalo announced the free agent signing Thursday, three days into free agency. With the addition of Williams, AFC East teams will have to a contend with a vastly improved Bills front seven.
Bills sign DE Williams to $100 million deal
Buffalo Bills' reputation of being unable or unwilling to pay big money
for star players, the Bills grabbed a major free agent off the market
on Thursday, signing defensive end Mario Williams to a six-year deal
worth $100 million, with $50 million of it guaranteed, according to
multiple media outlets.
The $50 million guarantee is the largest ever for a defensive player in
who said he was attracted by Buffalo's family atmosphere, is hoping to
push the Bills into the playoffs. They started the 2011 season 5-0 but
collapsed after that, finishing 6-10 and failing to make the playoffs
for the 12th straight year.
"You don't get many chances to be
the guy to get across the hump," Williams, the No. 1 overall draft pick
in 2006, said at a press conference. "This is a great opportunity."
Buffalo finished 26th in the NFL in yards allowed in 2011 and 30th in
points allowed last
2011 season was limited to five games because of a torn pectoral
muscle, and he had just five sacks last season, but he has 53 sacks in
his six-year NFL career, all with Houston.
Williams will be
part of a new defensive scheme that will feature a four-man front under
new defensive coordinator Dave Wannstedt, with Williams at right end
and Kyle Williams and Marcell Dareus on the inside.
spent 2 1/2 days in Buffalo before signing with the Bills. General
manager Buddy Nix and Wannstedt took a private jet to pick up Williams
in North Carolina to bring him to Buffalo.
Williams was later
joined by his fiancee, and after meetings with coaches and touring the
city and the Bills facility, he felt comfortable in Buffalo, which he
had not visited previously,
He said the uncomplimentary things
people say about Buffalo are inaccurate, and that the atmosphere in
Buffalo was one of the main things that attracted him.
Asked to specify one of the features of Buffalo that lured him,
Williams said, "That there's deer in your backyard."
hear so much about this city, and it's not fair," Williams said.
"There's a compassion here. Football is 50 percent of (signing with a
team), but 50 percent is how you feel outside of football. It feels
like a big Richlands."
Williams is from Richlands, a quiet, rural town in North Carolina.
Bills quarterback Jim Kelly played a major role in the recruitment of
Williams, and Williams said his visit to Kellys' home had an impact on
Nix said the Bills have been targeting Williams since the
end of the season, when it became apparent Williams might become a free
agent. He also said the heat the Bills take for not wanting to spend
money was inaccurate, that ownership has never told him not to spend
money on a particular player.
The Bills certainly opened the
purse string for Williams, but Williams said he doesn't feel any
pressure from receiving a huge contract.
"I don't see pressure," he said. "I just see work that needs to be
Nix is hoping Williams' decision may help Bills sign other players who
might have been reluctant to come to Buffalo.
"If you see a guy of his stature come to Buffalo . . . If he did it,
there's something there," Nicks said.
Free Agent Rankings
Free Agent News