With the Bills prepared to use their franchise tag on left tackle Cordy Glenn, the team is clearing cap room to accommodate today’s move and future offseason business. According to Josina Anderson of ESPN.com (via Twitter), the Bills have let defensive end Mario Williams know that he has been released. Additionally veteran guard Kraig Urbik posted a farewell message to the team and its fans on Twitter, suggesting he has also been cut.
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Williams indicated last week that he would be open to discussing a pay cut to remain with the Bills, but even when he made those comments, he hinted at some concerns about the team’s defensive scheme, suggesting that he would want the team’s coaches to meet the players halfway. The veteran defensive end struggled mightily during his first and only season under new Bills head coach Rex Ryan and defensive coordinator Dennis Thurman, and his released had long been viewed as likely.
In addition to his steep drop in his production this season – he had 19 tackles and five sacks after recording 42 and 14.5 in 2014 – Williams would have been one of the priciest defensive players in the NFL in 2016. His cap charge was set to increase to $19.9MM, which was accompanied by an $11.5MM base salary. Releasing the veteran pass rusher will save the Bills nearly $13MM in cap room, leaving the club with only $7MM in dead money on its books.
Although Williams will be entering his age-31 season in 2016, I imagine many teams will chalk up his 2015 struggles to a poor scheme fit, rather than a possible decline in talent. Given how many clubs will be in the market for pass-rushing help this offseason, Williams should be in high demand on the open market, and he’ll get a week’s head-start on the rest of this year’s pending free agents.
As for Urbik, the 30-year-old has spent his entire six-year career in Buffalo, starting 57 games over the last six years for the Bills. He’s the victim of a cap crunch in Buffalo, with the team in need of every bit of flexibility it can get. The Bills will free up $1.775MM in cap space by releasing Urbik, who wrote on Twitter that he is “excited about my next opportunity.”
Like Williams, Urbik is a vested veteran, so both players will become unrestricted free agents without having to pass through waivers.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.