So, Bucs fans know their team needs a pass rusher and a name like Mario Williams might be available, it makes sense to already imagine him in a Buccaneers' uniform. From 2012-14, Williams totaled 38 sacks after signing a massive $96 million contract. With 2 years let on that deal, releasing Williams would save the Bills close to $13 million, and it seems inevitable.
"I'm prepared for anything," Williams said, via ESPN.com, "because I know I'm going to prove a point and that is not even a question in my mind.
"At the end of the day, if I'm not there, I'll show you that I'm better than what I've been before. Like, that's just a chip on my shoulder regardless of whether I am there or not, because given the opportunity I'll get back to what I was."
Williams does have a lot to prove after a very disappointing 2015, where he was only able to manage 5 sacks on the season. Was Williams' play in 2015 a result of his new coaching staff and defensive scheme, or is his talent starting to decline at 31 years old?
I know I said it is unlikely the Bucs would sign a player like Mario Williams, but it isn't impossible. The Bucs definitely need pass rushers (plural), and Williams' size fits the mold of Jay Hayes' (Bucs new DL coach) style of lineman.
Let's discuss the Pros and Cons of signing Mario Williams:
-Williams had double-digit sacks in the 2012, 2013, and 2014 seasons. It's been a decade since the Bucs last had a player with 10 or more sacks (Simeon Rice, 2005).As a veteran who has played on physical defenses with the Texans and Bills, Williams experience/leadership would be a nice addition.
-There's no denying Williams size (6'6'' 290 lbs)
-Williams would bring a nasty attitude to a defense that's far too nice.
-Williams would be a nice mentor to the young defensive linemen the Bucs bring in via free agency and the draft.
-In 10 NFL seasons, Williams has missed a total of 14 games.
-Age becomes a concern as Williams probably won't be getting much better at 31 years old.
-What's his price tag? This might not sound like a big issue for the Bucs, who have around $50 mil in cap room, but you also don't want to miss big on another free agent.
-In a league where pass rushers are at a premium, why is this the 2nd time Williams has hit free agency?
-While he has been durable, the combination of size (6'6'' 290 lbs) and age (31) makes me wonder when his body might start to break down.
-In 10 NFL seasons, Williams has never played in a playoff game. He was injured in 2011 when the Texans went to the postseason. Not fully his fault, but it is a fact.
-2015 was Williams' worst season in his 10-year NFL career, which makes you wonder if this is the start of his decline.