It’s still hard to believe but the Buffalo Bills made the biggest splash on the free agent market.
Mario Williams isn’t a run of the mill free agent; he was the most sought after available defensive player.
And now Williams is a member of the Bills. The same Bills team that hasn’t made the playoffs in 12 seasons and is often the butt of other people’s jokes.
Bills General Manager Buddy Nix said many times throughout the winter that acquiring a pass rushing defensive end or linebacker was his top priority. Since the Bills are not known for making huge free agent offers, it was assumed they were going to try and upgrade their defence through the draft.
But that all changed on Tuesday afternoon when Nix picked up Williams in North Carolina in a private jet and took him to the team’s facility for a tour.
Two days later, Williams became the highest paid defensive player in the NFL.
News of the signing has sent shockwaves across the NFL for two reasons. One, the Bills gave Williams a six year, $96 million contract with $50 million in guaranteed money. And two, Williams decided to pick the Bills over everyone else.
With this one move they have completely changed both the makeup and the mindset of their team. The first overall pick in the 2006 draft, Williams has compiled 53 sacks in 82 career games. Williams is an elite, game-changing defensive end who can play in a 4-3 or 3-4 defence.
The signing of Williams and the willingness of the Bills to spend this kind of money sent a message to the rest of the NFL how serious they are about winning.
All of a sudden the Bills will have a dominant defensive line that will feature players such as Williams, Marcell Dareus and Kyle Williams. Opposing teams won’t be able to double team everyone, meaning the Bills now have the potential to put consistent pressure on the quarterback. Look out, Tom Brady.
Speaking to an AFC scout, he said their team rated Williams’ skill set and ability to put pressure on the quarterback as a “nine out of 10.”
In 2011 the Bills only had 29 sacks, 10 those coming in their win over the Washington Redskins in Toronto. If there was a team in the NFL that was desperate for a pass rusher like Williams, it was the Bills.
The presence of Williams and his pass rushing skills will also be a big boost to the linebackers and especially the secondary. Opposing quarterbacks won’t be able to sit back in the pocket and pick apart the defence anymore.
While I am no way comparing them as players, the Williams signing has the potential to have the same impact the Reggie White signing had in Green Bay.
Green Bay was seen as a football wasteland before White signed as free agent with the Packers. It was a small, cold city in Wisconsin that hadn’t been to the playoffs in years. White’s arrival signaled a paradigm shift in the fortunes of the Packers and the rest is history.
Whether or not Williams can have the same impact with the Bills remains to be seen. But there’s no questioning the signing of Williams instantly makes the Bills defence better.
The Bills now have an elite pass rusher that opposing teams must account for when putting together their game plan. That is something that hasn’t happened when the facing the Bills in a long time.
With Williams under contract, Buddy Nix now has more options for the upcoming draft.
If he decides he wants to select a cornerback, offensive tackle or a wide receiver he can do it, because defensive end is already taken care of.