ESPN's Josina Anderson is reporting that the Buffalo Bills have released defensive end Mario Williams, in a widely anticipated move.
I'm told by a source Bills DE Mario Williams has been informed he's been released.— Josina Anderson (@JosinaAnderson) March 1, 2016
This decision was no surprise, given the circumstances with Buffalo's salary cap and the hefty contract Williams carried. By cutting Williams, the Bills are able to free up $12.9 million, money that will be put to use funding Cordy Glenn's franchise tag and other contract extensions.
While the move gives the Bills some salary flexibility, it opens up a schematic hole on the defense; Williams was backed up by Manny Lawson and restricted free agents Corbin Bryant and Stefan Charles. That means they will need to pursue a pass rusher or defensive lineman to replace him.
Williams finishes his four-year career in Buffalo as their fifth-ranked all-time sack artist, with 43 takedowns. His best season was in 2014, when he was voted first-team All-Pro. Following that 14.5-sack season, he ran into friction with Rex Ryan's complicated defensive scheme, and saw a major downturn in his production. Even with continued success in Ryan's defense, Williams may have been a questionable retention due to his massive contract. With the disappointing trajectory of 2015, this move was inevitable.