Marcell Dareus

Trade Notes: Garoppolo, Benjamin, Dareus

With the trade deadline behind us, NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero provided some insight into the completed deals. Notably, the writer discussed the 49ersPatriots trade involving quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. While he initially opined that New England should have gotten a bigger return for the signal-caller, he started to see the logic after talking to league executives.

As Pelissero explains, the team surely would have gotten a lesser return had they franchised Garoppolo and then traded him. Alternatively, had the quarterback departed via free agency, the team would have simply acquired a compensatory pick in the third round.

“They kept the insurance policy,” said an NFL executive. “The risk was greater back in April. It’s less now. And it’s also the deadline. This was their last chance to get the best that they can. … Now, they’re halfway through the season. They know they’re going to lose the player. If they lose the player, even if it’s one of the most outrageous contracts in history, the best they can get is a compensatory third.”

Of course, these executives also touted the 49ers for prying the young quarterback away from New England.

“I give credit to San Francisco,” said one GM, “because in the offseason, four or five teams called (the Patriots) and they said, ‘Absolutely not. No way.’ “

Let’s take a look at some more notes from Pelissero regarding the trade deadline…

  • The Chargers had been shopping wideout Dontrelle Inman since training camp, but they couldn’t find a partner before completing a deal with the Bears.
  • The Marcell Dareus trade was simply a cap dump, with Pelissero noting that the defensive tackle had worn out his welcome among Bills teammates and the coaching staff. However, the Jaguars were seemingly willing to take the risk since his former coach, Doug Marrone, “could vouch for him.”
  • Interim GM Marty Hurney only talked to the Bills before dealing wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin. The Panthers were looking to get more speed on the field, and they weren’t planning on extending Benjamin.
  • A.J. McCarron‘s future will depend on a pending grievance regarding his free agency status. The Bengals backup quarterback is arguing that he should be an unrestricted free agent, but time spent on the NFI list could earn him the restricted tag. Cincinnati had a deal in place with the Browns for the quarterback, but the trade was rejected by the NFL.

Jaguars Release Jonathan Freeny

Marcell Dareus passed his Jaguars physical, making the Bills-Jags trade official, per Adam Schefter of ESPN (on Twitter). In sending only a draft pick Buffalo’s way, Jacksonville needed to clear a roster spot to make room for the defensive tackle.

The Jags did so by cutting Jonathan Freeny, per Ryan O’Halloran of the Florida Times-Union (on Twitter). Freeny spent less than a week with the Jaguars, signing with the team earlier this week after playing three games with the Ravens this season.

The 28-year-old linebacker’s most known for being an 11-game starter with the Patriots from 2015-16, collecting a ring last season. The Ravens cut Freeny last week, and the sixth-year defender worked out for the Jags on Monday.

Freeny is not subject to waivers since he’s a vested veteran. Although, had the Jaguars made this move after the trade deadline in three days, Freeny would have been subject to waivers.

Jags executive VP Tom Coughlin described Dareus as an experienced player who’s been “productive throughout his career” and a talent who will help the Jags “immediately” (Twitter link).

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Reactions To Marcell Dareus Trade

The Bills traded defensive tackle Marcell Dareus to the Jaguars yesterday for a 2018 sixth-round pick (which could ultimately turn into a fifth-rounder). The player’s contract was much too expensive for the Bills to tolerate, and most pundits were impressed with the team’s ability to shed the money. We’ve compiled the majority of those reactions below…

  • Bills general manager Brandon Beane referred to Dareus as a question mark, citing the player’s high salary and previous suspensions.“He’s not a bad person at the end of the day,” Beane said (via ESPN.com’s Mike Rodak). “I wish him the best, and I know Sean [McDermott] does and the whole organization does… I give Marcell [Dareus] a lot of credit. I thought he made huge strides as of late. But we thought this was a good move for us going forward. But it is also a fresh start for him.”
  • According to Joe Buscaglia of WKBW in Buffalo (via Twitter), Beane wasn’t actively shopping Dareus. Instead, the general manager claimed that the Jaguars had reached out to the Bills. Ultimately, Buffalo decided it was a good deal for the organization and pulled the trigger.
  • More from Beane (via Buscaglia on Twitter): “Anytime you pay a guy double digit APY’s, you have to make sure they fit your team as a player and a person…He’s definitely a guy we would have talked about after the season, ‘How does he fit, moving forward.'”
  • Jason Fitzgerald of OverTheCap.com refers to the trade as a “cap savings bonanza” for the Bills, noting that the organization has done an admirable job of fixing their “broken salary cap.” While the team will be stuck with $14.2MM in dead money next season, this scenario is more appealing than cutting him following the current campaign. Meanwhile, the Jaguars had more financial flexibility, allowing them to inherit most of the contract without compromising their future.

Jaguars To Acquire DT Marcell Dareus

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).Marcell Dareus

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 NgakoueMalik 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.

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Bills Tried To Trade Marcell Dareus This Offseason

The Bills (unsurprisingly) tried to trade DT Marcell Dareus this offseason, but they (unsurprisingly) received little interest, as Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports writes. Dareus is not far removed from being one of the top interior defenders in the game, which is why the Bills signed him to a six-year, $95.1MM extension in 2015. But he has not been the same player since then, and he has been arrested, suspended multiple times, he has failed to condition properly, and he was sent home following Buffalo’s third preseason game this year following a violation of a team rule.

Marcell Dareus

In light of all of that, it is little wonder that Buffalo was unable to find any takers. Making matters worse is the fact that, in addition to his on-field mediocrity and off-field struggles, his contract is exceedingly player-friendly. He is due $7.35MM in guaranteed 2018 salary, and his former promise will not be enough to induce a team to take on his deal. As La Canfora points out, the Bills could absorb the cap penalties they would incur by trading Dareus, but they do not anticipate any team will express interest in acquiring him prior to next week’s trade deadline (though he does remain on the market).

Instead, La Canfora reports that the Bills are likely to cut Dareus in 2018 with a post-June 1 designation, which will allow them to spread out the massive cap hit over two seasons. Even by doing that, however, the club would take on nearly $14MM in dead money while clearing just ~$2.5MM.

Dareus has not played horribly this season, but he is not doing much to change the league’s perception of him. His effort remains spotty, and he has graded out as the 36th-best D-lineman out of 121 qualified players, per Pro Football Focus.

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Latest On Bills DT Marcell Dareus

Defensive tackle Marcell Dareus is facing a “make-or-break” 2017 season with the Bills, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com.Marcell Dareus

When he’s on top of his game, Dareus is one of the league’s better interior defenders, especially against the run. But he’s been arrested, suspended multiple times, failed to condition properly, and — just last month — was sent home following Buffalo’s third preseason game following a violation of a team rule. When asked recently if Dareus was part of the Bills’ future, general manager Brandon Beane was non-committal.

“I don’t know,” said Beane. “Time will tell. It was disappointing, as I said, after that game. He was contrite yesterday and said the right things. Actions speak louder than words. Time will tell. Hopefully, he is. We hope he’ll play to his potential. We know what kind of player he can be. We hope to see that on the field.”

Dareus’ six-year, $95.1MM contract extension — arranged by Buffalo’s prior regime — is arguably the most player-friendly deal in the NFL, making it extremely difficult for the Bills to trade or release Dareus. Because he’s due $7.35MM in guaranteed 2018 salary, Dareus isn’t going to be an attractive trade candidate. And Buffalo could only clear cap space next season by designating Dareus a post-June 1 cut — even then, the club would take on nearly $14MM in dead money while clearing just ~$2.5MM.

The Bills, lead by Beane and fellow new decision-maker Sean McDermott, haven’t been afraid to deal players that were selected by the team’s former front office. Thus far, they’ve trade wide receiver Sammy Watkins and cornerback Ronald Darby, acquiring draft picks in addition to veterans E.J. Gaines and Jordan Matthews.

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AFC Notes: Bills, Steelers, Bengals

The Bills sent big-money defensive tackle Marcell Dareus home before their preseason game against the Ravens last week after he violated a team rule, leaving general manager Brandon Beane unsure if the two-time Pro Bowler is part of the solution. Asked this week if Dareus is on board with what the team is trying to build, Beane told Joe Buscaglia of WKBW (via Mark Inabinett of AL.com): “I don’t know. Time will tell. It was disappointing, as I said, after that game. He was contrite yesterday and said the right things. Actions speak louder than words. Time will tell. Hopefully, he is. We hope he’ll play to his potential. We know what kind of player he can be. We hope to see that on the field.” Even if the Bills are fed up with Dareus, who has multiple suspensions on his resume, moving on from the cornerstone defender in the near future would be extremely difficult because of the structure of his contract. The Bills inked Dareus to a six-year, $91.5MM extension in September 2015.

More from two other AFC cities:

  • The Steelers expect the NFL to fully reinstate wide receiver Martavis Bryant in advance of Week 1, GM Kevin Colbert told Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh-Post Gazette (Twitter link). The league suspended Bryant for all of last season for repeated violations of its substance abuse policy, conditionally reinstated the 25-year-old in April and gave him clearance to participate in the preseason three weeks ago. He hasn’t appeared in a meaningful game since a playoff loss to the Broncos on Jan. 17, 2016.
  • Cornerback Joe Haden‘s $5.75MM signing bonus is the only guaranteed portion of the three-year, $27MM contract the Steelers gave him Wednesday, according to Dan Graziano of ESPN.com. The pact includes base salaries of $1.25MM, $9MM and $10MM, and it comes with a $1MM roster bonus that’s due in March 2018.
  • Linebacker Vontaze Burfict‘s suspensions call his future with the Bengals into question, Katherine Terrell of ESPN.com observes. Burfict is set to serve a three-game ban for the second straight campaign, and he has only played 58 of a possible 80 regular-season contests in his five-year career. Cincinnati’s going to have to consider Burfict’s lack of availability when deciding whether to re-sign him by next winter, then. The same goes for tight end Tyler Eifert, whom injuries have limited to 37 of a possible 64 games during his four seasons. Both players make the Bengals better when they’re on the field, which Terrell notes will make for tough decisions in each case.

AFC Rumors: Bills, Bortles, Patriots, Broncos

Marcell Dareus‘ standing with the new Bills regime took a hit Saturday night when the team sent the cornerstone defensive tackle home from its preseason game against the Ravens for violating a team rule. The nature of the violation isn’t known, but first-year GM Brandon Beane addressed the matter pregame.

A guy with his contract status, you’d hope he’d be a better leader than that,” Beane said, via CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora (on Twitter).

A quadriceps injury has slowed the seventh-year defensive tackle in practice, so it’s uncertain he would have played anyway. Nevertheless, this is another run-in with authority for Dareus, who hasn’t been eligible to play in a Week 1 game since 2014. He was suspended for four games last season and one in 2015, and as Mike Rodak of ESPN.com points out, benched in multiple games under Doug Marrone in 2013 because he showed up late to meetings.

Here’s the latest out of Buffalo and some other AFC cities as the league’s most relevant preseason week continues.

  • Shortly after the Bills sent Dareus home, they lost their quarterback to a concussion. Tyrod Taylor left the game because of a head injury, the team announced. He is in the concussion protocol. A third-down sack led to Taylor’s removal from the game. Nathan Peterman replaced the starter.
  • One key facet of Blake Bortles‘ game got him the nod to make a third straight Week 1 Jaguars start over Chad Henne. Marrone pointed to Bortles’ scrambling ability as the key, Ryan O’Halloran of the Florida Times-Union notes. Bortles has rushed for 1,088 yards in his three-year career, and the Jags face the Texans and Ravens during the first two weeks of the season. O’Halloran writes this decision doesn’t change the Jags’ 2018 draft strategy, when another quarterback figures to be in play (barring an unexpected Bortles bounce-back effort).
  • The Patriots cut Kony Ealy a week early in order to help the former Panthers defensive end catch on with his next team early, thus giving him a better shot to make an impact in 2017, Bill Belichick said. “I just think it’s one of those things that didn’t work out or wasn’t going to work out,” Belichick said, via Mike Reiss of ESPN.com. “Nobody’s fault. He worked hard. We worked hard. A lot of effort put in, but in the end, we didn’t feel like this was going to work out. It gives him an opportunity about a week ahead of next week to hopefully create a better opportunity for himself.” Ealy will be placed on waivers.
  • Saddled with a ravaged defensive end corps, the Broncos would make sense as an Ealy fit. But Troy Renck of Denver7 said the team doesn’t plan to pursue him (Twitter link). Denver is without Derek Wolfe and Jared Crick for the time being and saw recently re-signed defensive lineman Billy Winn tear an ACL in the Broncos’ first preseason game. UFA addition Zach Kerr also left the Broncos’ preseason game Saturday with a first-half knee injury. Ealy’s best game came against the Broncos, with the former second-round pick sacking Peyton Manning three times and intercepting him once in Super Bowl 50.

Fallout From Rex Ryan’s Firing

The Bills are on the hunt for a new head coach after firing Rex Ryan on Tuesday, but the presence of general manager Doug Whaley is likely to limit their options, according to Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk. With Whaley entrenched atop the Bills’ front office, head coaching candidates who want significant say in roster construction might be less inclined to take the job.

Tom Coughlin[RELATED: Bills to bench Tyrod Taylor]

That could include longtime NFL head coach Tom Coughlin, with whom the Bills spoke last offseason about a front office role before he took a position with the league. Coughlin is now a possibility to end up back in Jacksonville – where he coached from 1995-2002 – but Bills owner Terry Pegula is interested in tabbing the two-time Super Bowl winner to succeed Ryan, per Jason Cole of Bleacher Report (Twitter link). Lions defensive coordinator Teryl Austin is also high on the Bills’ list, reports Cole, who adds that the team would want to retain interim head coach Anthony Lynn as its offensive coordinator under either Coughlin or Austin.

Lynn entered the season as the Bills’ running backs coach, but they elevated him to O-coordinator after firing Greg Roman on the heels of an 0-2 start. Buffalo’s Lynn-led attack ranks first in the league in rushing, seventh in scoring, eighth in DVOA and 12th in total offense. Now, given his impressive work this season, it’s possible Lynn is actually the favorite to take over for Ryan on a permanent basis. Whaley “pushed” ownership to place the interim tag on Lynn, tweets the Buffalo News’ Vic Carucci, who wrote last week that Lynn could be primed to grab the reins going forward. Lynn garnered attention from head coach-needy franchises last winter and will again be on teams’ radars this offseason (the Rams are reportedly eyeing him), so the Bills could lose the 47-year-old if they don’t select him as Ryan’s replacement.

Rex Ryan

As for Ryan, his downfall in Buffalo was his inability to live up to his reputation as a defensive guru. The Bills had a top-tier defense in place when they hired him in advance of the 2015 campaign, but it was a below-average unit in each of his two years with the club. Ryan’s move last January to hire his twin brother, the now-fired Rob Ryan, to team with him and defensive coordinator Dennis Thurman didn’t produce positive results. In fact, Bills players told ESPN’s Jeff Darlington that the Ryans lost the defensive portion of the locker room because there were “too many cooks in the kitchen” (Twitter link). Defensive end Leger Douzable took to Twitter to bash Buffalo’s decision to ax Rex Ryan, whom he also played under as a Jet, but star D-tackle Marcell Dareus doesn’t seem too broken up about the coaching change.

While Dareus told ESPN’s Josina Anderson that he likes Ryan, the franchise’s highest-paid player explained that the defensive scheme “was just too much detail for a lot of guys, and I feel like for a lot of guys it was too much going on for them to check here and check there, if this happens and that happens. Then nine times out of 10, a team will throw something out there that we weren’t prepared for, and then the adjustment to it, we had to get use to and try to make it happen and make plays.”

The 26-year-old Dareus will be among a few marquee talents the Bills’ next coach inherits (running back LeSean McCoy and wide receiver Sammy Watkins are the others), though the environment “from top to bottom” is “toxic,” relays Carucci (Twitter link). Considering the Bills have gone a league-worst 17 years since their latest playoff trip, that’s not overly surprising.

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Bills Fed Up With Marcell Dareus?

Thanks to injuries and his suspension, Marcell Dareus has appeared in just one game for the Bills this season. During his ban, Dareus let himself go and some in the Bills organization are frustrated with his perceived lack of effort, according to Jason Cole of Bleacher Report (video link). Marcell Dareus

Some team officials would like to cut ties with the defensive tackle, but that’s easier said than done given the money owed to him going forward. The Bills would be on the hook for tons of guaranteed cash, money that was given to him a little over a year ago in a mammoth extension worth $95MM over six years with the potential to crack the $100MM mark. Typically, a drug policy violation would allow the Bills to get out of all guarantees, but a rare clause in his contract limited the punishment to only the year of the misstep. In other words, Dareus’ 2016 guarantees went out the window, but all other guarantees through 2021 remained untouched.

A defensive tackle under old head coach Doug Marrone, the Bills switched Dareus to nose tackle spot under Rex Ryan last year. Dareus’ gaudy sack totals went away, but he was still a powerful run stuffer and Buffalo felt compelled to lock him up. Given the headaches of this season, the Bills are unquestionably regretting their decision. Trouble is, there’s no easy way out with the soon-t0-be 27-year-old.

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