The Bills have officially locked up safety Aaron Williams with a contract extension, the team announced today (Twitter link). As a member of the 2011 draft class, Williams had one year remaining on his rookie contract, and was eligible for a new deal for the first time this offseason.
Mike Garafolo of USA Today reports (via Twitter) that Williams’ new pact is a four-year contract worth $26MM, which will keep the young safety under contract through 2018. The deal also includes another $1.25MM in incentives, so it could max out at a total of $27.25MM. According to Pro Football Talk (Twitter link), $14.625MM of the contract is guaranteed, including a $6.5MM signing bonus.
Williams, who turns 24 in April, started 14 games for the Bills in 2013, grabbing four interceptions and logging 82 tackles, both easily career highs. The former second-round pick also ranked 28th among 86 qualified safeties according to Pro Football Focus’ advanced metrics, giving Buffalo a formidable safety duo consisting of Williams and Jairus Byrd.
With Byrd seemingly set to hit the open market, Williams looks like the most logical in-house replacement, as ESPN.com’s Mike Rodak noted earlier this week. However, Bills CEO Russ Brandon stressed that Williams’ deal is “completely independent” of any other negotiations involving the team (Twitter link via Joe Buscaglia of WGR550). In other words, the extension doesn’t preclude a return to Buffalo for Byrd, even if that possibility is looking increasingly less likely. Re-signing Byrd would likely mean committing $15MM+ per year to the team’s two starting safeties, which probably wouldn’t be the best use of the Bills’ money.
Williams, the 34th overall pick in 2011, is the fourth member of the draft class to sign an extension this offseason. Center Jason Kelce (Eagles), center Daniel Kilgore (49ers), and defensive back Taiwan Jones (Raiders) have also inked new deals.