With Jairus Byrd set to be a free agent after he declined the Buffalo Bills’ contract extension, the Bills should turn their view in house to survey their own pending free agents and think about extending them.
Yesterday, the Bills did just that when they extended Aaron Williams’ contract four years. The extension pays Williams $26 million with another $1.25 million in incentives. This was a positive first step for the Bills, but they still have some notable names who are near the end of their deals.
Marcell Dareus, Jerry Hughes, Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller are four players who could be entering the final season of their respective contracts. Priority of which player to address first is a huge step the Bills must take. They will have a franchise tag to use next year, and some players are just emerging at the right time. Beyond that, Dareus has an interesting caveat in his contract per Jay Skurski of the Buffalo News. Between now and May 3rd, the Bills can pick up a fifth-year option on the defensive tackle. Dareus would be locked in for an additional season at a cost of $7 million.
If I were in charge, here is how I’d prioritize the contracts of four key Bills:
1.) Jerry Hughes: The reasoning is simple, pass rushers get big money. The only way to get Hughes without breaking the bank is by trying to extend him now. The only concern I have is how Hughes fits into Jim Schwartz’s scheme. Will Schwartz’s scheme allow Hughes to duplicate last year’s success? Time will tell. Schwartz excels with pass rushers, so Hughes should be fine, but giving him too much, too early could mean a bad deal later.
2.) C.J. Spiller: He’s under 30, is the Bills’ leading rusher the past two years and provides a home run threat every time he touches the ball. If injuries are past him and the Bills can add help along the offensive line, Spiller will return to being one of the most dynamic backs in the league. The issue is how much money should be committed to a running back? The position is not as valued as they once were. Something in the area of a three-year, $30 million deal with $15 million guaranteed should be enough for Spiller to extend his contract with the team.
3.) Marcell Dareus: There have been reports of him being late to team meetings, but at the same time he had the best season of his career. Dareus made his first Pro Bowl and played like the Bills expected him to when they drafted him third overall in 2011. The question is how much do the coaches believe in him? The Bills would be wise to pick up his fifth-year option and if he puts together another strong season, use the $7 million in salary as a starting point for extension talks.
4.) Fred Jackson: Jackson is a warrior of a running back and still brings value to the team as the thunder to Spiller’s lightning. However, running backs over 30 don’t carry much of a market. I would only offer Jackson a one year extension and continue as such until he is no longer a viable player. Jackson is a locker room leader and a fan favorite, but the reality is that he doesn’t have much football left in him. Taking him on a year to year basis is ideal for both the player and team.
If the Bills can lock up one, if not two, of these four players for the foreseeable future it will go a long way in keeping the team viable in the AFC East. It’ll also help shrug off the stigma that the Bills do not keep their own young players.