It’s a busy offseason for Mario Williams since being released by the Buffalo Bills. He’s already met with the Miami Dolphins, and plans to visit with the Jacksonville Jaguars and the New York Giants before deciding on where he plays in 2016.
Williams, 31, was cut by the Bills not just for his cap hit (would have been $19.9 million in 2016) but mostly for his inability to buy into Rex Ryan’s defensive vision and schemes. Williams complained all season long about the way he was being used by Ryan, which meant a lot of dropping back into coverage for someone mostly known for his quarterback sacking abilities. After getting to the quarterback 38 times through his first three seasons in Buffalo, Williams had just 5 sacks through 15 games in 2015.
Is it a decline for Williams, or simply wrongly used? Teams are hoping it’s the latter. Either way, despite playing as a 4-3 defensive end for most of his career and being better in that role, he does have a little bit of linebacker playing time back from his Houston Texans day, so teams playing the 3-4 shouldn’t be completely ruled out, although it is something a bit strange for him, and considering how important it is to him to play in a scheme he likes, maybe that door is closed.
The Dolphins don’t have a lot of money and although they do want another edge rusher along with Olivier Vernon, it’s unlikely they’ll have enough money for Williams, who probably isn’t going to give anyone a serious discount, unless he finds himself priced out of a job. Both the Jaguars and the Giants are among the more flexible teams when it comes to money for free agents this offseason. The Giants have $57 million in cap space, while the Jags are at $67 million.
The Giants plan on hosting almost every viable pass rusher in the free agency market. Charles Johnson is someone they’ve already met with, but Bruce Irvin and Tamba Hali are also on their list. The Jags, who for the first time in years are heading into the offseason with some positive momentum, were 20th in the league last season in generating sacks, and while they usually don’t go for expensive veterans like Williams, this offseason could be a sign of their evolving ambitions and willingness to spend.