Mario Williams hasn’t exactly had a smooth transition this season adjusting to Rex Ryan‘s defense, and the high-priced defensive end may not be the Bills’ plans beyond 2015. A person with “direct knowledge of discussion” tells John Wawrow of The Associated Press that Buffalo intends to cut Williams during the offseason.
Asked today about the report, Ryan dismissed it, saying he has no idea where it’s coming from, per Mike Rodak of ESPN.com. And it’s worth noting that even if the Bills have tentative plans in place now, there’s no guarantee those plans will be executed several weeks or months from now. Still, it wouldn’t be a surprise if the Bills deemed Williams expendable.
In addition to the steep drop in his production this season – he has 17 tackles and four sacks after recording 42 and 14.5 last year – Williams will be one of the priciest defensive players in the NFL in 2016. His cap charge is set to increase to $19.9MM, which is accompanied by an $11.5MM base salary. Releasing the veteran pass rusher would save the Bills nearly $13MM in cap room, leaving the club with only $7MM in dead money on its books.
When I examined the Bills’ 2016 cap situation back in October, I identified Williams as a candidate to have his contract restructured, rather than being dropped form the roster entirely. But since then, the extent of his struggles in Ryan’s system have become more obvious, so it makes sense that he’s now considered a release candidate.
If the Bills cut Williams after the Super Bowl, he wouldn’t be subject to waivers — he’d immediately become an unrestricted free agent, able to sign with any team.