The Buffalo Bills 2013 season has been finished for just over a day now, but that doesn’t mean the offseason isn’t already in full swing.
They’ll focus on signing their own, but one interesting decision needs to be made about a player already under contract. Marcell Dareus, the third overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, signed a fully guaranteed four-year deal worth $20.4 million when the Bills picked him. What most might not realize is that every first round pick since the 2011 collective bargaining agreement went into effect has a fifth-year option built into their deals. That fifth-year option would pay Dareus right around $7 million.
Seems like a slam-dunk decision, right? The 23-year-old defensive tackle has been an important part of the Bills’ dominant defensive line, enjoying a fine individual season with career-highs in combined tackles (71) and sacks (7.5).
Not so fast.
While it’s not likely to really worry many, there have been minor disciplinary problems creeping into play. Dareus has made a habit of being late to meetings, being benched for the first quarter of the Miami game and the entire first half of the season finale against New England. It’s not likely to be a persistent problem or one to even really sniff at, but it’s obviously something that was enough of an issue to cost him some playing time in big games down the stretch.
There’s also something else to consider: Instead of exercising that option, perhaps the Bills use that deadline to sign Dareus to a long-term extension. Where will it end up in relation to the six-year, $33.6 million extension fellow defensive tackle Kyle Williams signed in 2011?
Decisions are ahead for the Bills as they have until May 3, five days before the start of the 2014 NFL Draft, to make their choice on Dareus.