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Contract projection for Buffalo Bills free-agent tackle Daryl Williams

Williams earned a big payday in 2020.

The Buffalo Bills signed tackle Daryl Williams to a team-friendly one-year, $2.25 million deal a year ago. That placed him third on the salary-cap list among Bills tackles and fourth on the depth chart—so much so we thought he might be an option at guard. He played well in camp and started the season as the right tackle, solidifying a spot that had flip-flopped between Ty Nsekhe and rookie Cody Ford in 2019. Turning 29 just before the season start, Williams is set to cash in on what could be the last big-money deal of his career.

In 2019, Williams signed with the Carolina Panthers for one year and $6 million. He had struggled with injuries in 2018 and his play, and this was an in-between deal for the former fourth-round pick who became a solid player early in his career. Buffalo moved him past $10 million in career earnings with his most recent contract, but he’s set to cash in with a solid long-term deal this offseason.


Comparable contracts

Bryan Bulaga
Los Angeles Chargers, 2020
Three years, $30 million ($19 million guaranteed)

The Los Angeles Chargers signed the former first-round pick a year ago and guaranteed the first two seasons of his contract. He was coming off a 16-game season in 2019 and 14 games the year before. A really solid starter, he’s held in just a bit of higher esteem than Williams.

Mitchell Schwartz
Kansas City Chiefs, 2019
Three years, $24.5 million ($17.5 million guaranteed)

Another two-year guaranteed deal, Schwartz was coming of an All-Pro season in 2018 and had never missed a game in his NFL career to that point. Seems like the Chiefs got a steal with this deal. His previous contract had averaged $6.6 million per season and this was a bit of an upgrade, but he wasn’t near the top of right tackle money despite the accolades.

Dennis Kelly
Tennessee Titans, 2020
Three years, $17.25 million

I’m including this one because Kelly is clearly lower on the playing scale than Williams and should also be lower on the pay scale. Never more than a part-time starter in a season, Kelly commanded solid money for the Titans but hadn’t started more than six games in a season since his rookie year in 2012. When the Titans signed him in 2020, it was to be the starter and he made the step, going 16 full games for them, but that was after he signed his deal. He is also two years older than Williams, so this contract is a pipe dream.


Contract projection

Williams is going to get a multi-year, starter-level contract even in the COVID-depressed salary-cap world. Offensive line play around the league is abysmal and with so much money invested in quarterbacks, it’s silly not to throw money at your offensive line, too. Buffalo gets the first crack at him but they won’t get a hometown discount large enough to make it a steal as Williams signs what could be the last big contract of his career. He was such a steal in 2020.

Four years, $35 million
$18 million fully guaranteed

This contract puts him ahead of Schwartz and makes him number seven on the list of highest-paid right tackles in the NFL. I don’t think he’s going to command the $10 million per season it would take to get into the top five.

The first two years are guaranteed and that allows me to play some games with the salary-cap hits. I pushed a bunch of money into a 2022 roster bonus that the Bills can restructure into a new signing bonus a year from now to lower his cap hit in 2021 and 2022 in anticipation of the cap rebounding after COVID-19 restrictions loosen and a new TV deal is in place.

I started it as a three-year deal worth $24.6 million and then added a team option for a fourth year at $10.4 million. Just like the salary-cap games I played with the first two years of the deal, adding the fourth year of the deal allows me to further spread out the cap hit down the line. It’s not a move general manager Brandon Beane loves to do, but this offseason is going to force some teams into deals they don’t love.

As usual, we put in the workout and per-game active bonuses Beane seems to love so much.

Here’s the full breakdown as is:

2021
Signing bonus: $1.5 million
Workout bonus: $100,000
Salary: $4 million (guaranteed)
Per-game active bonus: Up to $500,000

Cap hit: $6.1 million

2022
Signing bonus: $1.5 million
Roster bonus: $5.1 million (guaranteed)
Workout bonus: $100,000
Salary: $2.9 million
Per-game active bonus: Up to $500,000

Cap hit: $10.1 million

2023
Signing bonus: $1.5 million
Roster bonus: $500,000
Workout bonus: $100,000
Salary: $4.7 million
Per-game active bonus: Up to $500,000

Cap hit: $7.3 million
Dead cap if cut: $3 million
Cap savings if cut: $4.3 million

2024
Signing bonus: $1.5 million
Roster bonus: $500,000
Workout bonus: $100,000
Salary: $8.9 million
Per-game active bonus: Up to $500,000

Cap hit: $11.5 million
Dead cap if cut: $1.5 million
Cap savings if cut: $10 million


Now as I said, I would look to turn that 2022 roster bonus into a signing bonus, which would significantly alter the cap hits for the final three years of the deal. It’s way more leveraged than anything we’ve seen from Beane before, so it’s a shot in the dark, but COVID-19 has thrown a salary-cap wrench the likes of which we have never seen. So here’s what that would look like:

2021
Signing bonus: $1.5 million
Workout bonus: $100,000
Salary: $4 million (guaranteed)
Per-game active bonus: Up to $500,000

Cap hit: $6.1 million

2022
Signing bonus: $1.5 million
New singing bonus: $1.7 million
Workout bonus: $100,000
Salary: $2.9 million
Per-game active bonus: Up to $500,000

Cap hit: $6.7 million

2023
Signing bonus: $1.5 million
New singing bonus: $1.7 million
Roster bonus: $500,000
Workout bonus: $100,000
Salary: $4.7 million
Per-game active bonus: Up to $500,000

Cap hit: $9 million
Dead cap if cut: $6.4 million
Cap savings if cut: $2.6 million

2024
Signing bonus: $1.5 million
New singing bonus: $1.7 million
Roster bonus: $500,000
Workout bonus: $100,000
Salary: $8.9 million
Per-game active bonus: Up to $500,000

Cap hit: $13.2 million
Dead cap if cut: $3.2 million
Cap savings if cut: $10 million

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