Marcell Dareus

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.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC Notes: Fins, Ben, Bills, Broncos, Erving

The Dolphins have defeated winning teams in each of their past two games and are responding to the Adam Gase-led coaching staff more than their group of leaders last season, Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald writes.

Miami’s roster has been more receptive to coaching from this staff after many resisted instruction from the Joe Philbin– and Dan Campbell-led staffs last season, per Salguero, who adds the team’s highest-paid player has fallen in line more in his second season in south Florida.

During his first, “very few people in the building” liked Ndamukong Suh, writes Salguero, who characterizes the standout defensive tackle as not buying into Philbin or Kevin Coyle in leadership positions. This season, Suh’s been living up to his $19MM-AAV price tag, with 3.5 sacks through seven games, rating as Pro Football Focus’ No. 5 interior defender. The Dolphins remain 3-4, though, with a No. 20-ranked defense. They have an uphill battle if they’re going to contend for a playoff spot in Gase’s first season, even if they’ve created some rare momentum.

Here’s more from the AFC, beginning with a team whose momentum the Dolphins stunted.

  • Fantasy owners of Ben Roethlisberger or the Steelers‘ Big Ben-dependent skill-position contingent will need to stay on top of his status going into Week 9, with Adam Schefter reporting (via Twitter) the Steelers haven’t decided if Roethlisberger or Landry Jones will get the call against the Ravens. The 34-year-old passer is less than three weeks removed from meniscus surgery, and another Roethlisberger absence could sink the Steelers to .500 after they looked like one of the league’s most dangerous teams prior to his injury.
  • The Bills remain confident LeSean McCoy and Percy Harvin will play against the Seahawks on Monday night. However, Marcell Dareus will miss the game due to the groin injury he suffered against the Patriots, the team announced. Dareus has played in just one game for the Bills this season.
  • Harvin’s unretirement will net him $825K for the rest of the season, Tom Pelissero reports (on Twitter). The 28-year-old slot target will also earn $22.5K in game-day roster bonuses. Harvin made $6MM for the Bills last season.
  • In addition to Aqib Talib being set to miss Sunday night’s Broncos-Raiders tilt, Denver dime back Kayvon Webster will be out as well, Nicki Jhabvala of the Denver Post tweets. Functioning as the No. 4 corner for a third straight season, Webster injured his hamstring against the Chargers, leaving the Broncos with three healthy corners on their active roster who have played in a game this season. The defending champions did add Taurean Nixon from their practice squad earlier today.
  • Free to use this year as an observational campaign now that they’re 0-8, the Browns are considering moving Cameron Erving from center to tackle, Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon Journal reports. PFF rates Erving as its worst center among the 34 qualifying as full-time snappers. Hue Jackson intends to keep trying the 2015 first-rounder at center but acknowledged a position change could be in the cards, with Ulrich noting tackle would be the move. The 6-foot-6 Erving started at left tackle for two full seasons at Florida State before moving to center during his senior year in 2014. Cleveland obviously has Joe Thomas at left tackle and opted not to trade him again, but Thomas turns 32 this offseason and will continue to see his trade value diminish as he ages. The Browns have Austin Pasztor at right tackle.
  • Although he sees the Jets making a big move this coming offseason regardless of what transpires down the stretch (Twitter link), ESPN.com’s Rich Cimini does not see the team pulling an about-face and rekindling Muhammad Wilkerson trade talks. Cimini agrees with Sheldon Richardson, who categorized himself as the defensive line’s “odd man out” earlier this week.

Bills DT Marcell Dareus Could Play This Week

Bills head coach Rex Ryan told reporters it “looks like there’s a chance” defensive tackle Marcell Dareus makes his season debut on Sunday against the Patriots, according to Mike Rodak of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Dareus has yet to play in 2016 due to a four-game suspension and hamstring issues.Marcell Dareus

[RELATED: Latest On Bills’ Aaron Williams]

In August, Dareus was handed his second suspension in as many years, though his ban in 2015 only lasted one game. After the league handed him his latest ban, the 26-year-old claimed it was the result of a missed drug test. Dareus also declared he’d check into rehab. Neither of those statements proved true, however, as later reports indicated that Dareus did not miss a test — he instead violated the league’s drug program multiple times dating back to his one-game suspension last year. And, in lieu of rehab, Dareus received treatment for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Dareus, would immediately upgrade a Buffalo defense that currently ranks 16th in DVOA, per Football Outsiders. An All Pro in 2014 and a two-time Pro Bowler, Dareus will take snaps from incumbent nose tackle Corbin Bryant, who’s been filling in while Dareus has been sidelined. Though 3-4 nose guards don’t typically rack up impressive statistics, Dareus has averaged six sacks per season over his five-year career, and is also an impressive run defender.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Bills Activate Marcell Dareus

Fresh off two straight wins to even their record at 2-2, the Bills will welcome back one of their cornerstone players in time for a road game against the Rams on Sunday. The team has activated two-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle Marcell Dareus, whom the NFL suspended for the season’s first four games for a substance abuse violation. In corresponding moves, the Bills have placed wide receiver Greg Salas on injured reserve with a groin issue and cut guard Terran Vaughn from their practice squad.

Marcell Dareus

Dareus is now coming off his second suspension in as many years, though his ban in 2015 only lasted one game. After the league handed him his latest suspension, the 26-year-old claimed it was the result of a missed drug test. Dareus also declared he’d check into rehab. Neither of those statements proved true, however, as Tim Graham of the Buffalo News reported Wednesday that Dareus did not miss a test – he instead violated the league’s drug program multiple times dating back to his one-game suspension last year. And, in lieu of rehab, Dareus received treatment for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), according to Jarrett Bell of USA Today. He also sought counsel from Pro Football Hall of Fame defensive lineman Bruce Smith, the Bills’ all-time greatest defender.

Going forward, the Bills will now hope Dareus’ off-field troubles are behind him. The club signed the ex-Alabama star and 2011 third overall pick to a massive extension 13 months ago, but Dareus then had somewhat of a disappointing season as part of an underachieving defense. Dareus posted a career-low sack total last season (two) after piling up 10.5 the previous year and a combined 28.5 from 2011-14. He could now bolster a unit that ranks fourth in the league in sacks, 14th in DVOA and 16th in total defense.

Meanwhile, although Salas missed the Bills’ wins over the past two weeks, his loss is another blow to the depth of a team that’s perilously thin at receiver. With Salas and the highly talented Sammy Watkins on IR, the Bills are left with Robert Woods, Marquise Goodwin and Walter Powell as their top three options. Salas hauled in four catches for 89 yards and a touchdown over the season’s first two weeks.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Latest On Marcell Dareus

Marcell Dareus will return to his place on the Bills’ defensive line this weekend after missing four games due to a drug suspension. But Wednesday brought some updates in the defensive tackle’s timeline.

The sixth-year lineman said in August his four-game ban stemmed from missing a drug test, but Tim Graham of the Buffalo News reports (on Twitter) that wasn’t the case. Multiple drug-program violations occurred, per Graham, to cause the league to suspend the interior-line stalwart.

This was Dareus’ second drug-related suspension in two years. The reported multiple violations happened in between his first and second bans, causing the lengthier absence, per Graham (Twitter link).

Additionally, Dareus did not end up checking into rehab despite what he said in August. Instead, the 26-year-old nose tackle received treatment for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), according to Jarrett Bell of USA Today.

Dareus worked with an ADHD expert and a life coach, per Bell, who adds the top current Bills defensive lineman sought the counsel of the greatest defender in Bills history. Dareus stayed with Bruce Smith at his Virginia home for four days, Bell reports. Dareus was first diagnosed with ADHD while at Alabama.

I’m a better person, a better teammate, a better player,” Dareus told Bell. “I just want to show them. Talk is cheap. I’m at the point where I have to do it.”

Dareus will return to a Bills team that’s now 2-2 despite all of the turmoil it’s encountered this season via injuries, suspensions and the firing of OC Greg Roman.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

14 Players Returning From Suspension

Fourteen players will return from four-game suspensions this week, according to Howard Balzer (Twitter links: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6). The most high-profile returnee, of course, is quarterback Tom Brady, who will re-join the 3-1 Patriots on Sunday against the Browns.

The following players have completed their suspensions:

The club that employs each player will receive a short roster exemption that ends the day following the team’s Week 5 game. that means the 49ers’ exemption for Lynch ends Friday, the Panthers’ exemption for Scott ends next Tuesday, and the rest end next Monday.

Sterup, meanwhile, was on the Chiefs’ practice squad when he was banned, but he hasn’t completed the PED reinstatement requirements, according to Balzer. So although he can sign with a new club, Sterup can’t practice or play until he’s approved by the league.