Linebacker-end Mario Williams became the highest-paid defensive player in NFL history Thursday after signing a six-year contract with the Buffalo Bills worth $100 million, $50 million guaranteed. Williams’ mega-deal followed the $132-million contract the Detroit Lions gave their star receiver Calvin Johnson on Wednesday.
Johnson’s haul is the most for any NFL player at any position.
Other than Peyton Manning, whose search for a new team continues, Williams was the most sought free agent in this year’s class; Johnson already was under contract in Detroit.
“It’s one of those things you don’t get many chances like this, and opportunities to come in and be the guy who can help the team get across the hump,” said Williams, who was in Buffalo since the free-agency period opened Tuesday, having been flown in from his home in North Carolina. “And that’s definitely what I’m here for. My whole intention is to come here, work with guys like Kyle [Williams] and [Marcell] Dareus and make this thing happen.”
The first overall draft pick by Houston in 2006, Williams became a pass rushing force and all-around standout at end before moving to linebacker in the Texans’ new 3-4 alignment last year. But he played only five games in 2011 before a torn chest muscle sidelined him.
Buffalo targeted Williams to upgrade a defense that ranked 26th overall and 28th against the run. The Bills had only 29 sacks last year; Williams has 53 for his career.
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