Kyle Williams

Contract Details: Burnett, Bodine, Williams

Let’s take a look at the most recent new contracts around the NFL:

AFC

NFC

Bills To Bring Back Kyle Williams

Perhaps the most memorable part of the Bills’ playoff celebration involved Kyle Williams rejoicing after 11 years of regular-season-only football in Buffalo. After Williams’ 12th doubled as the Bills’ first 21st-century playoff berth, he plans to stay on board for a 13th year. 

The Bills are re-signing the defensive tackle stalwart on a one-year deal, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. It’s a $6MM agreement including $5MM fully guaranteed, Rapoport reports (on Twitter).

The five-time Pro Bowler has played in at least 15 games in five of the past six seasons, offering stability to an evolving Buffalo defense. The Bills pivoted back to a 4-3 scheme last season and relied on Williams, who gave them 16 starts. He will turn 35 in June.

He’s recorded 43.5 career sacks — fifth in team history and far and away the most by a Bills defensive tackle — and will be in position to add to that total next season.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Top 2018 Free Agents By Position: Defense

NFL free agency will get underway on Wednesday, March 14th, and while the list of free agents will change between now and then, we do have some idea of who will be available when free agency kicks off. The frenzy is right around the corner and it’s time for us to break down the outlook for each position. After looking at offense on Monday, we’ll tackle defense and special teams today.

Listed below are our rankings for the top 15 free agents at each defensive position. These rankings aren’t necessarily determined by the value of the contracts – or the amount of guaranteed money – that each player is expected to land in free agency. These are simply the players we like the most at each position, with both short- and long-term value taken into account.

Restricted and exclusive-rights free agents, as well as players who received the franchise tag, aren’t listed here, since the roadblocks in place to hinder another team from actually acquiring most of those players prevent them from being true free agents.

We’ll almost certainly be higher or lower on some free agents than you are, so feel free to weigh in below in our comments section to let us know which players we’ve got wrong.

Here’s our breakdown of the current top 15 free agents by defensive position for 2018:

Edge defender:

  1. Julius Peppers
  2. William Hayes
  3. Trent Murphy
  4. Pernell McPhee
  5. Aaron Lynch
  6. Alex Okafor
  7. Adrian Clayborn
  8. Kony Ealy
  9. Connor Barwin
  10. Jeremiah Attaochu
  11. Junior Galette
  12. Derrick Shelby
  13. Barkevious Mingo
  14. Kareem Martin
  15. Erik Walden

As a positional group, pass rushers comprise interesting market on the defensive side of the ball. It’s not often that a list of best available players is topped by a 38-year-old, but Peppers is the top free agent edge defender after the Cowboys and Lions deployed the franchise tag on Demarcus Lawrence and Ezekiel Ansah, respectively. As with quarterbacks, NFL clubs are extremely reluctant to allow pass rushers to hit the open market, so top-tier options are rarely ever truly “available.” Peppers, for his part, hasn’t even declared whether he’ll return in 2018, but indications are that he’ll suit up for a 17th campaign after posting 11 sacks last year.

Alongside Peppers, other veterans populate the edge market, and while William Hayes may not be a household name, he’ll be a contributor for whichever team signs him. A stout run defender, Hayes is also capable of generating pressure despite managing only one sack in 2017. The Dolphins used Hayes on only 271 defensive snaps a season ago, and have since replaced him by acquiring fellow defensive end Robert Quinn from the Rams. Now that he’s entering his age-33 season, Hayes should come cheap, but will almost assuredly outplay his contract.

Nearly every other available pass rusher has some sort of flaw which will likely limit his market next week. Trent Murphy is only 27 years old and put up nine sacks in 2016, but he missed the entirety of the 2017 campaign with injury. Pernell McPhee, Alex Okafor, Junior Galette, and Derrick Shelby have also been plagued by health questions in recent seasons. And Adrian Clayborn famously registered the majority of his 2017 sacks (and 20% of his career sack total) in one game against overwhelmed Cowboys backup Chaz Green.

The two names that I keep coming back to are Aaron Lynch (49ers) and Jeremiah Attaochu (Chargers). Yes, Lynch has been suspended for substance abuse, struggled with his weight, and was reportedly in danger of being waived prior to last season. He’s also extremely young (he won’t turn 25 years old until Thursday) and ranked fifth in the league with 34 pass pressures as recently as 2015. Attaochu, a 25-year-old former second-round pick, also has youth on his side, and while he hasn’t quite flashed as much as Lynch, he’s also been buried on LA’s depth chart for much of his career.

Interior defensive line:

  1. Sheldon Richardson
  2. Dontari Poe
  3. Muhammad Wilkerson
  4. Star Lotulelei
  5. DaQuan Jones
  6. Beau Allen
  7. Denico Autry
  8. Justin Ellis
  9. Tom Johnson
  10. Bennie Logan
  11. Chris Baker
  12. Kyle Williams
  13. Dominique Easley
  14. Haloti Ngata
  15. Jay Bromley

Interior rushers are getting more respect in today’s NFL, but that still hasn’t translated to them being paid on the level of edge defenders — the 2018 franchise tag for defensive tackles, for example, is roughly $3MM cheaper than the tender for edge rushers. While the 2018 crop of interior defenders boasts some impressive top-end talent, none of the available players figure to earn a double-digit annual salary. Sheldon Richardson may have the best chance to do so, but Seattle determined he wasn’t worth a one-year cost of $13.939MM, so is any other club going to pay him $10MM per year? I’d guess he comes in closer to $9MM annually, which would still place him among the 25 highest-paid defensive tackles.

Dontari Poe will be an intriguing free agent case after setting for a one-year deal last offseason, but the most interesting battle among defensive tackles will take place Star Lotulelei and Muhammad Wilkerson, and I’m curious to see which player earns more on the open market. Both are former first-round picks, and it’s difficult to argue Wilkerson hasn’t been the more productive player — or, at least, reached higher highs — than Lotulelei. Wilkerson also won’t affect his next team’s compensatory pick formula given that he was released, but his off-field issues, which include a reported lack of effort and problems with coaches, could limit his appeal.

While Beau Allen and Denico Autry are potentially candidates to be overpaid based on their youth, there are bargains to be had at defensive tackle. Tom Johnson is 33 but he’s offered consistent pressure from the interior for years — his last contract was for three years and $7MM, so he shouldn’t cost much this time around. Haloti Ngata was injured in 2017 but plans to continue his career, and he can still stop the run. And Dominique Easley was outstanding as a 3-4 end in 2016 before missing last season with a torn ACL, meaning the former first-round pick could be a value play for any number of teams.Read more

AFC East Notes: McDaniels, Patriots, Amendola

The NFL is expected to change the rule to allow teams to hire coaches, even while their teams are still active in the playoffs (Twitter link via Judy Battista of NFL.com). There has been talk of doing this before, but there was a renewed focus on the rule change this offseason after Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels bailed on becoming the Colts’ new head coach at the last minute.

While McDaniels gears up for another year as New England’s OC, here’s more from the AFC East:

  • Patriots wide receiver Danny Amendola is eligible for the open market, but he wants to stay put. “I’m a free agent this year, so let’s say — the unknown. We’ll see what happens. I definitely want to be here. To tell you the truth, I don’t want to leave. But it’s a business. I’ve learned that,” Amendola said (via Mike Reiss of ESPN.com). Amendola earned just over $3MM last season as he caught 61 passes for 659 yards and two touchdowns. The 32-year-old could earn cash in elsewhere, but he sounds pretty intent on staying in New England.
  • Bills head coach Sean McDermott says that releasing quarterback Tyrod Taylor is not currently in the team’s plans. “Tyrod is a good player,” McDermott said (Twitter link via ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter). “It’s way too early to take anything off the table, other than cutting him at this point, which is not in our plans.”
  • Bills GM Brandon Beane says that he has been in contact with the agent for defensive tackle Kyle Williams (Twitter link via Joe Buscaglia of WKBW). At this point, Beane is unsure as to whether Williams is considering retirement. Last year, the Bills reportedly had to convince him to return for a 12th NFL season.
  • On Wednesday, Jets running back Matt Forte announced his retirement from the NFL.
  • The Dolphins are expected to huddle up with the agent for Jarvis Landry on Wednesday evening. Miami hit the wide receiver with the franchise tag last week, but it has been widely reported that the Dolphins are looking to trade him.

Bills Address Trades Of Sammy Watkins, Ronald Darby

The Bills made deals with the Rams and Eagles on Friday and secured two additional draft picks. They now have six selections in the first three rounds next year. However, in trading away their top cornerback and wide receiver, Bills brass are aware they have to sell these deals to fans and players.

Sean McDermott commented about how these trades could be perceived as weakening this year’s team — and hindering the chances of breaking major American sports’ longest playoff drought — in order to build for the future in the eyes of some fans.

I get it. I absolutely get it. That’s why I didn’t sleep last night because these are tough decisions,” McDermott said, via Tim Graham of the Buffalo News. “I’m a part of that. When I signed my name to that dotted line, I became a part of that 17-year time period. I’m invested. I feel what (the fans) feel.”

New GM Brandon Beane said he was not actively aiming to trade Sammy Watkins and Ronald Darby. Beane added these trades came together around the same time, inducing the back-to-back announcements.

These aren’t easy decisions. I laid both trades out for Terry Pegula and Sean McDermott last night. This was absolutely a ‘we’ decision,” Beane said. “… People forget that we just signed (Anquan) Boldin. This isn’t a throw-in-the-towel move. You don’t know me if you think I’m throwing in the towel.”

Convincing veterans these were the right moves weighed on Beane’s mind. That process has already begun. An AFC GM, however, approves of the haul the Bills got for Watkins and Darby. The exec texted Graham that second- and third-round 2018 picks for players the Bills didn’t ultimately view as cornerstones was a good return. This follows the draft-weekend deal that allowed the Chiefs to move up to No. 10 and select Patrick Mahomes, dropping the Bills 18 spots in Round 1. Of course, Beane wasn’t yet on board when that occurred.

Well, it’s hard,” Beane said of selling the move to the locker room. “They don’t necessarily know Jordan (Matthews) or E.J. (Gaines) So hopefully they’ll reserve judgment until those guys get in and strap the pads on and jump in with them. We’ll see where it goes from there.”

Speaking of Boldin, the veteran wide receiver said Friday he would have joined the Bills with or without Watkins. Boldin signed a one-year contract late last month. The Rams now have Watkins on a one-year deal since the Bills didn’t pick up the former No. 4 overall pick’s fifth-year option.

Back for a third season as the starting quarterback, Tyrod Taylor toed the company line as well after the Bills have now fully revamped his receiving corps.

I have faith in our management, have faith in coach McDermott that they made a decision based on the betterment of this team,” Taylor said, via Graham.

Graham notes Kyle Williams needed to be convinced to return for a 12th season. The defensive tackle said his experience with NFL transactions makes this easier. As does the fact Matthews and Gaines are on the way.

You could view it one way from my perspective if we got a pick (in 2018), two more two years from now,” Williams said. “We’re actually getting guys that are coming back to play those positions.”

Bills’ Kyle Williams To Return In 2017

The Bills announced that defensive tackle Kyle Williams will return next season. Presumably, that means Williams has confirmed he will not retire this offseason, nor will the Bills release him to save money against the cap. Kyle Williams

[RELATED: Drew Rosenhaus Expects Bills To Keep LeSean McCoy]

Williams, 34 in June, has spent his entire career in Buffalo. He’s slated to carry a $8.3MM cap number this season, but it’s not immediately clear whether the two sides have an agreement in place to re-work that number. Last year, Williams accepted a pay cut which trimmed his base salary from $6MM to $4.25MM, reducing his cap charge from $8MM to $6.25MM.

Williams missed more than half of the 2015 season, but last year he appeared in 15 regular season games. With 64 total tackles and five sacks in 2016, Williams earned his fifth career Pro Bowl selection.

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Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Jets Place Devin Smith On PUP, Cut 11

The Jets have announced a series of roster moves that moves their roster to 78 players, three over the 75-man limit. New York will need to make three more cuts before Tuesday at 3pm CT.

The Jets have announced the following transactions:

Placed on reserve/PUP:

Cut:

Smith, a 2015 second-round pick, is still recovering from a torn ACL, and won’t be eligible to play during the first six weeks of the season. The Jets will then have a three-week window during which they can activate Smith. In 10 games last year, Smith posted nine receptions for 115 yards and one touchdown.

Bills’ Kyle Williams Takes Pay Cut

The Bills have reworked another contract, according to Mike Rodak of ESPN.com, who writes that defensive tackle Kyle Williams is the latest Buffalo player to have adjustments made to his deal for the 2016 season.Kyle Williams

[RELATED: Bills rework Dan Carpenter’s contract]

Per Rodak, NFLPA records show that Williams’ $6MM base salary for the 2016 season has been sliced to $4.25MM. The move has apparently created $1.75MM in cap room for the team, reducing the 32-year-old’s cap charge from $8MM to $6.25MM.

Typically, when a player takes that sort of pay cut, he gets some sort of bonus or incentive added to his contract to help make up for the lost salary, potentially giving him a chance to earn it back. However, Rodak suggests that the records don’t indicate Williams’ restructure includes anything besides the pay cut.

Williams had been owed a $500K roster bonus earlier this week, so it’s possible that the Bills agreed to pay out that bonus if the veteran defensive lineman agreed to reduce his pay. This is just my speculation, but Buffalo could have created $5MM in cap room by releasing Williams, so perhaps the team used that scenario as leverage to encourage a restructure.

Williams remains under contract with the Bills for two more years, with a cap hit of $8.3MM and a base salary of $6.3MM for 2017.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC East Rumors: Bills, Dolphins, Jets

Three of the AFC East’s four teams are in the news. Here’s the latest:

  • As free agency approaches, the Bills are working to retain their two best offensive linemen – left tackle Cordy Glenn and left guard Richie Incognitowrites CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora. We learned this afternoon that the Bills intend to place the franchise tag on Glenn if he hasn’t agreed to a long-term deal by the March 1 deadline. Contrary to a report from earlier this week, the Bills aren’t currently looking to extend contract-year quarterback Tyrod Taylor, per La Canfora, who adds that they’re instead focusing on locking up cornerback Stephon Gilmore. Moreover, they’ll release defensive end Mario Williams and running back Anthony Dixon, and could restructure the contracts of safety Corey Graham, corner Leodis McKelvin, and possibly defensive lineman Kyle Williams. With some of the cap space those moves would create, La Canfora expects the Bills to pursue free agent-to-be Bilal Powell. The 27-year-old running back played under Bills head coach Rex Ryan as a member of the Jets from 2011-14. Powell averaged a career-high 4.5 yards per carry on 70 attempts last season and added a personal-best 47 receptions.
  • The Dolphins want to rework the contract of defensive end Cameron Wake, according to La Canfora. The problem, he notes, is that Wake would likely match or exceed the $8.4MM he’s scheduled to make as a Dolphin next season if they release him and he reaches the open market. Thus, the 34-year-old lacks incentive to take a pay cut. Not surprisingly, then, talks between the Dolphins and Wake’s agent made no progress at the combine.
  • With two ex-Jets bigwigs in Buffalo (Ryan) and Miami (executive vice president of football operations Mike Tannenbaum), representatives of pending Jets free agents said at the combine that the Bills and Dolphins could be landing spots for their clients, according to Brian Costello of the New York Post. That seems to corroborate La Canfora’s report that the Bills will try to reel in Powell in free agency. Further, the Bills and Dolphins could go after Jets run-stuffing defensive tackle Damon Harrison if he hits the market, per Costello, though he notes that the teams’ lack of cap space might serve as roadblocks. Even so, Harrison could use those clubs as leverage to scare the Jets into meeting his demands.

Bills, GM Doug Whaley Working On Extension

1:20pm: Dunne has published his full story on the Whaley extension talks, citing a source who says Pegula did not give a one-year ultimatum to the GM and head coach.

12:51pm: General manager Doug Whaley and the Bills are working on a new contract that would lock up Whaley beyond 2016, according to Tyler Dunne of The Buffalo News (Twitter link). Jeremy White of WGR and Adam Benigni of WGRZ (Twitter links) each reported today that the two sides were working out the final details of the new deal, though Dunne says it hasn’t yet been presented to ownership.Doug Whaley (vertical)

On the heels of a morning report from Dunne’s Buffalo News colleague Vic Carucci, who suggested that owner Terry Pegula was giving Whaley and Rex Ryan one more year to make the playoffs and secure their jobs, news of a possible extension for Whaley comes as a surprise — particularly since Benigni indicates Whaley’s new deal would coincide with Ryan’s, meaning it would run through 2019.

It’s possible that Carucci’s report was inaccurate, though it’s hard to believe the Bills would stand pat again if the team has a sub-.500 season in 2016. It’s also possible that Pegula would consider making changes a year from now even after extending Whaley. For someone who spent $1.4 billion to buy the franchise in 2014, eating a few extra million dollars to replace a GM is probably viable.

Still, if that’s the case, extending Whaley seems somewhat unnecessary, unless the team simply doesn’t want its GM entering the year as a lame duck. Even if Pegula wants to express confidence and optimism heading into 2016, there’s likely a less expensive way to do it.

As we try to sort out what’s happening in Buffalo, here a few more Bills-related updates:

  • Speaking to reporters yesterday, Ryan was unwilling to say definitively that defensive coordinator Dennis Thurman would return in 2016, says Mike Rodak of ESPN.com.
  • Veteran defensive tackle Kyle Williams has told the Bills he wants to continue playing next year, so as his long as his medical information checks out, he’ll likely be back, tweets Joe Buscaglia of WKBW.
  • Whaley downplayed the importance of signings outside free agents this offseason, joking that reporters covering the team can probably go on vacation during the first week of free agency. However, he referred to re-signing tackle Cordy Glenn and guard Richie Incognito as a “major point of emphasis” (Twitter links via Dunne and Buscaglia).

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.