After a second arrest in less than a month, it’s quite clear that Buffalo Bills defensive tackle Marcell Dareus has some issues to work out. He’d better get things figured out quickly if he wants to stay in the NFL.
Dareus was first arrested on May 5 for two felony drug charges. He was originally pulled over for speeding while driving on Interstate 20 in Alabama. During a subsequent search, a state patrol officer spotted Dareus in possession of synthetic marijuana and drug paraphernalia.
Dareus spoke to the media about the arrest after the Bills’ first OTA of the season on May 28.
“It’s behind me. I’m not a trouble guy,” Dareus said. “I don’t cause any problems nowhere. I’m not a loud guy, I don’t do anything. I just have fun and be myself. Things happen. Things happen.”
Two days after making that statement, Dareus was arrested again. He was charged with reckless endangerment, reckless driving, participating in an illegal speed contest as well as other traffic violations. The end result of the race was Dareus’ Jaguar crashed into a tree near a mall in Hamburg, N.Y. Days after the arrest, Bills’ defensive end Jerry Hughes admitted that he was driving the other car involved in the race.
The first arrest happened just days after the Bills exercised a fifth-year option on Dareus’ contract, which would pay him a little more than $8 million in 2015.
The issue with Dareus’ behavior is unfortunately a common narrative in professional sports. A player signs a big contract and all of a sudden there’s an overwhelming feeling of entitlement and invincibility.
These arrests aren’t the only issues that Dareus has faced during his time playing for the Bills. Last season he was suspended by head coach Doug Marrone during two consecutive games for showing up late to team meetings. Dareus was benched for the first quarter of a Week 16 game against the Miami Dolphins and then benched for the first half of the season finale against the New England Patriots.
Dareus downplayed the first suspension while talking with reporters after the Miami game.
“It’s not really nothing important. It’s just a quarter,” Dareus said. “You suffer your consequences, roll on with them, do the best you can.”
It’s quite clear from recent arrests to consecutive suspensions that Dareus either isn’t learning a lesson or just plain doesn’t care. Either way, he needs to get his act together and get it together quickly.
One more mistake and Dareus’ future with the Bills may be over. And if he keeps it up, he may not even have a future in the NFL. Just look at the situation with the Cleveland Browns’ Josh Gordon, who faces a potential season-long suspension after a second failed drug test.
The immediate impact of Dareus’ actions will most likely result in a short suspension (up to four games) from NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, which will put the Bills in a tough spot to start the season. Outside of Kyle Williams, the Bills don’t have too many options at defensive tackle. Alan Branch will likely fill in for Dareus during a possible suspension, but so far he’s had little impact on the team and his no-show so far at OTAs certainly doesn’t help.
Marrone told reporters that Dareus will not attend the remainder of Bills’ OTAs but will be back for mandatory minicamp. While talking to the media, Marrone stressed that Dareus’ absence from OTAs is not a disciplinary action, but rather a break for him to get his act together.
“I believe in Marcell, and I will do everything I can to make sure we can get him on the right track,” Marrone said.
Dareus is very fortunate to be working under a coach who’s understanding and willing to work with him. There are many other coaches who wouldn’t tolerate his behavior, and I wouldn’t blame them.
For the immediate future, it appears as if Dareus will get away with a slap on the wrist punishment and play most of the upcoming season. In the long-term, the Bills must address the defensive tackle position in the 2015 NFL Draft. Dareus may not be around for too much longer and Williams is getting up there in age.
Hopefully Dareus will find the right help to get his life back in order, so he can get back to what he does best, stuffing the run and terrorizing opposing quarterbacks.