The Jaguars have agreed to acquire defensive tackle Marcell Dareus from the Bills, per Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Buffalo will receive a 2018 sixth-round pick that change to a fifth-round pick based if Dareus sticks on Jacksonville’s roster for the rest of the season and the Jaguars make the playoffs, per Schefter and Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com (Twitter links).
Dareus had long been thought to be available on the trade market, as the new Buffalo regime — including general manager Brandon Beane and head coach Sean McDermott — didn’t believe Dareus’ immense talent was worth his reported motivational lapses. Indeed, the Bills attempted to trade Dareus this offseason, but weren’t able to find a match.
The inability to Dareus until this point was likely due to his massive contract, a six-year, $95.1MM extension that he inked in 2015. It’s incredibly surprising the Bills were able to convince the Jaguars to take on the remaining portions of Dareus’ deal, which includes the rest of his guaranteed $9.75MM base salary this season and a $7.35MM guarantee in 2018. Dareus is also set to earn non-guaranteed base salaries of $8.335MM, $12.335MM, and $12.4MM from 2019-21, with $2MM available in roster bonuses during those three seasons.
Jacksonville can afford Dareus’ contract in 2017, as it still has more than $37MM in reserves, but his 2018 salary will eat into the club’s $13MM worth of cap space next season. Buffalo, meanwhile, is relieving itself of a hefty financial obligation, but will still be forced to eat part of Dareus’ deal. The rest of his prorated bonus money — $14.2MM in total — will accelerate onto the Bills’ salary cap in 2018.
Dareus, who now reunites with former Bills/current Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone, will join an already stacked defense that leads the league in DVOA. While the unit is excellent, it does rank dead last in run defense DVOA, an area Dareus should help improve. Jacksonville now fields a defensive line that includes Calais Campbell, Yannick Ngakoue, Malik Jackson, and Dante Fowler Jr.
Dareus, 27, clearly has immense talent, as evidenced both by his draft pedigree (No. 3 overall in 2011) and his prior NFL production, so if Marrone and the rest of Jacksonville’s staff can motivate him, Dareus could prove to be steal. He’s only played 138 defensive snaps on the season, but Dareus has graded as the NFL’s No. 37 interior defender, per Pro Football Focus. The Alabama product is three years removed from his best overall year, a 2014 campaign which saw him manage 10 sacks from the defensive tackle position.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.