Bills Free Agency: Williams' decision will loom large for defensive line

The Bills and Williams both have decisions to make

Sal Capaccio
January 22, 2018 - 8:38 pm

Timothy T. Ludwig - USA TODAY Sports

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The Buffalo Bills have 18 players scheduled to become unrestricted free agents on March 14, the first day of the new league year. All of them are eligible to re-sign with the club before hitting the open market. However, those who played 2017 on one-year veteran minimum deals have to wait until March 14, unless they agree to another one-year, vet minimum contract with the Bills. If they do, they can re-sign before then.

The advantage for the team signing a player to a one-year vet minimum contract is that no matter how many years of service they’ve had in the NFL, he will only count as a player with two years of service against the salary cap, which will be $630,000 in 2018.

Here’s a look at the two Bills' defenisve linemen scheduled to become unrestricted free agents in March and how I see their situations:
 

  • Kyle Williams

Williams’ contract expiring is only secondary to his situation. It starts with just knowing if he wants to play next year or not. General manager Brandon Beane has said Williams can still play if he chooses. If Williams does want to return, then the question will be “what price is fair for both parties on a one year deal?” Williams was the 13th highest paid defensive tackle in the NFL last year at a $8.3 million. I highly doubt the team would be willing to pay a 35-year-old that much again, strapping themselves even tighter against the salary cap when they need to get younger and already have several other holes to fill. And if he’s going to put his body through another full camp and season at 35, it’s doubtful Williams is going to play on some sort of really cheap deal from his perspective. It’s got to be worth it for him, too. Williams had a solid year in 2017 and was still the Bills’ best defensive tackle. So, not having him back would create yet another hole the team would need to address this offseason. Not to mention, he obviously means a ton to the locker room and what head coach Sean McDermott preaches on a daily basis. Hopefully, this situation doesn’t become one in which Williams wants to play, but the team and him can’t agree on a price.
 

  • Cedric Thornton

Thorton played on the one-year, veteran minimum last season, and he provided good value for them at that price. He played 15 games, starting two of them, and played the third-highest percentage of snaps for all defensive tackles on the team. They can sign him to another vet minimum deal and he would only count $790,000 against the salary cap next year as a sixth-year NFL player. I don’t see why they shouldn’t do that.

 

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