Dareus Extension No. 1 Priority for the Bills

Marcell Dareus may be the best player on the Buffalo Bills roster. The Bills want to make sure that their defensive cornerstone is with the Bills long-term and GM Doug Whaley called Dareus the team's No. 1 priority.

The Buffalo Bills may not be completely finished in free agency, but the team is ready to focus on extending one of their key defensive contributors. Marcell Dareus, the team’s third overall pick from the 2011 draft, is entering the final year of his rookie contract and Buffalo would like to extend the defensive linemen in the next few months. Doug Whaley, GM of the Bills, told Vic Carucci of The Buffalo News that contract talks will happen close to the NFL draft.

“In the near future,” General Manager Doug Whaley said. “He will be priority No. 1 once the dust settles post-draft, maybe even before then, just to get the ball rolling.”

On a defense that has players like Mario Williams, Kyle Williams, Jerry Hughes and Stephon Gilmore, you could argue that no one is more important than Dareus. At the age of 25, Dareus is just entering his prime.

The defensive tackle finished the 2014 season with 49 total tackles, 10 sacks, a career high, and one forced fumble. Pro Football Focus rated Dareus as the fourth best defensive tackle in the NFL last season, and the top defensive tackle in terms of run defense.

In his four year career, Dareus has 202 combined tackles, 28.5 sacks, 12 passes defensed and two forced fumbles. The lineman has also appeared in the last two Pro Bowls and was a first team All-Pro this season.

The Bills have three key players who could hit the free agent market after the season: Dareus, Cordy Glenn and Nigel Bradham. Among the trio, Dareus will collect the largest paycheck. Ndamukong Suh, another dominant defensive tackle, signed a six-year, $114 million contract with $60 million guaranteed this offseason with the Miami Dolphins. Dareus’ deal will come close to those figures so the Bills will need to get creative with his contract to ensure other contributors can be re-signed.

The Bills have done quite a bit to excite their fan base this offseason, but a Dareus extension would be the most exciting move of them all.

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