Ever since signing a six-year, $95.1 million contract with the Buffalo Bills, Marcell Dareus has done absolutely nothing to make his team happy.
Dareus has played just one game this season for the Bills due to his suspension for violating the league’s substance-abuse policy, but not all of his missed games were due to the suspension. He really let himself go physically during his “time off”, and suddenly putting the non-QB with the biggest guaranteed money portion in NFL history on the field is a liability for the Bills.
Over the last few weeks, with Dareus not playing since the loss to the New England Patriots on October 30, some voices in the front office have called for action in the form of cutting the 26 year-old nose tackle. The former Alabama standout might be a two-time Pro Bowl selection and one-time All-Pro, but the Bills can’t afford to have such an expensive player give them absolutely nothing by being too out of shape to be used on the field.
Cutting him is a problem. Usually, drug policy violations give teams an out, including squirming away from all guarantees ($60 million in guarantees through 2021, $42.9 million at the moment of signing in Dareus’ case) no matter how long the deal is. However in this case someone made a very smart decision when drafting the contract paper on the player’s behalf, whether it was Dareus himself or whoever negotiated the contract for him.
A rare clause in his contract limits the financial punishment from the team only to the year of the misstep, which means that even if the Bills do cut him, they’re on the hook for all of his guarantees through the 2021 season. With that in mind, the DT turned NT who is now more useful in stopping the run than rushing the quarterback isn’t going to be easy to get rid of. The best course of action for the Bills might be getting him back in shape, because releasing him would be a cap disaster.