With week 17 now in the books, that concludes the regular season. Aside from 12 teams, the rest of the league will have their sights set on the offseason and how they can improve their respective team. In the process, there will be some players released that’ll make you raise your eyebrows and shake your head – Mario Williams is the first of those players.
Buffalo signed Williams to a lucrative contract in 2012. He brought a much needed pass rush to the Bills’ defense, totaling 42 sacks in four seasons with the team. However, he racked up only 4 sacks this season – proving to not be a fit in Rex Ryan’s defense. Williams will carry the top salary cap hit into next season – releasing him will save the Bills $12.9 million against their cap in 2016; making the decision to cut him understandable.
So where will the 30 year-old pass rusher find himself playing in 2016? While he may not be in his prime anymore, he is just a year removed from a career-high 14.5 sack season. He can still provide legitimate pass rush for a contender.
When the news broke that Williams would likely be released, Atlanta was the first team to come to my mind. The Falcons are a good all around team who are still trying to find their identity, especially on the defensive side of the ball. They have been desperate for solid pass rush ever since John Abraham left. Williams would serve as a great compliment and mentor to slot opposite rookie standout, Vic Beasley.
A move like this could prove to be exactly what the Falcons need. They could really use those closing pass rushers to help them close out games. You know Dan Quinn is a defensive mind who loves to pressure opposing QBs.
At this stage of his career, Williams wants to play for a contender, and would more than likely love to be close to home. Williams is from North Carolina, and the Panthers are among the best teams in the NFL; so that alone seems like a good enough fit.
Even though they acquired Jared Allen earlier in the season, he may not return in 2016. Even then, I’m sure they’d love to add Williams to an already stellar DE rotation led by Charles Johnson. Signing Williams would bring another level to one of the best defenses in the league.
New York Giants
The Giants are a team I can see making a splash this offseason. Their pass rush has been absolutely dreadful this season. Entering week 17 they are ranked 30th with only 22 sacks. In a lackluster NFC East, a signing like could prove to be exactly what they need in order to put them over the top.
With Tom Coughlin unlikely to return in 2016, the new head coach will look to bring in some fresh faces who can make an instant impact. Who better than Mario Williams?
New York Jets
Imagine this, the Jets go out and snag Williams from a division rival, and the team’s former head coach, nonetheless. If the Jets make a move like this, I’m sure Williams would love to face Rex Ryan and the Bills twice a year.
Even though he may not be the best fit in Todd Bowles’ defense, you can never have too many pass rushers. Plus, Muhammad Wilkerson is set to hit the free agent market, so who knows if he’ll be back next season.
Other than Khalil Mack, the Raiders don’t really have anything up front. A pass rushing duo of Mack and Williams would be lethal. Oakland is a team on the rise who could really use a veteran presence in the locker room – adding Williams is exactly what they need to boost them in their 2016 playoff push.
I don’t know if it’s just me, but Mario Williams seems like your prototypical Raider, I could definitely see him suit up in the silver and black.