AP source: Bills' Dareus agrees to 6-year contract extension
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) Rex Ryan wishes he could have been a better football player, rather than a coach, after seeing Bills defensive tackle Marcell Dareus signing a whopping $100-plus-million contract extension.
As consolation, Ryan will settle on having Dareus anchoring Buffalo's dominant defensive front for a long time to come.
''That's fantastic,'' Ryan said Thursday after Dareus signed a six-year contract extension that makes him the team's top-paid player. ''He's ours, and obviously we're happy about that.''
A person familiar with negotiations revealed the length and value of the contract to The Associated Press, speaking on condition of anonymity because the team did not disclose those figures.
The extension kicks in after this season, and it means the Bills will now have two $100 million starting defensive linemen. The value of Dareus' new deal surpasses the six-year, $100 million contract the Bills signed defensive end Mario Williams to during free agency in March 2012.
''Marcell Dareus is a tremendous player and we feel he has a great opportunity to reach his potential as a player and a leader here with the Buffalo Bills,'' general manager Doug Whaley said in a statement. ''Throughout this process, we wanted Marcell to remain a Buffalo Bill for the long-term, and he made it clear to us that he wanted to continue his career in Buffalo.''
Now the Bills have to wait a week before Dareus can take the field. He'll miss the Bills opener against Indianapolis on Sunday while serving a one-game suspension for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy.
The suspension stemmed from Dareus being arrested and charged with possession of a controlled substance and drug paraphernalia after being stopped by Alabama State Police on May 5, 2014. Dareus avoided trial, during which he would have faced felony drug charges, by agreeing to enter an NFL substance abuse program a few months later.
That wasn't Dareus' only run-in with the law.
In April, Dareus reached a plea agreement to have misdemeanor charges dropped for crashing his Jaguar into a tree near a busy suburban Buffalo intersection in May 2014.
On the field, Dareus has become one of the league's top defensive linemen since the Bills selected him with the No. 3 pick in the 2011 draft out of Alabama. He's a two-time Pro Bowl selection and earned his first All-Pro honor last season, when he led the league's defensive tackles with a career-best 10 sacks.
Kyle Williams, a 10-year veteran, has mentored Dareus and said the 25-year-old has matured over time.
''We spend time with him, so I knew the kind of guy he was. I knew the heart that he had,'' Williams said, adding that he congratulated Dareus shortly after the deal was reached. ''It really felt like I got a new contract. It really did. I couldn't be more excited for him.''
Listed at 6-foot-3 and 331 pounds, Dareus has a rare combination of speed and power to attack opposing quarterbacks or stop the run. Along with Mario and Kyle Williams and Jerry Hughes, Dareus has been part of an aggressive defense that has an NFL-leading 111 sacks over the past two seasons.
The Bills thought highly enough of Dareus that they picked up the option on the fifth and final year of his contract before the start of last season. The 25-year-old is scheduled to make just over $8 million this season.
With Dareus' extension, the Bills have plenty invested into their defensive line. Mario Williams is set to make a $12.1 million base salary this season. Kyle Williams has three years left on his contract, and due to make $4.5 million this year.
And then there's Hughes, who will make $4.6 million this year after signing a five-year contract extension in March.
Ryan has a defensive background and is eager to watch how his defensive front can grow together.
''I've been blessed to coach some fantastic players, and (Dareus) would certainly be on top of that list,'' said Ryan, the former New York Jets coach who took over the Bills after Doug Marrone stepped down on Dec. 31. ''Man, no wonder I came to Buffalo. That's a heck of a deal.''
AP freelance reporter Mark Ludwiczak contributed to this report.
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