The Bills’ effort to land defensive end Mario Williams has entered the critical phase.
Not regarded as the top candidate to land the first pick in the 2006 draft when Williams arrived on Tuesday for the first free-agent visit of his career, the Bills have managed to put themselves into position to get the deal done.
It hasn’t been easy. So far, the Bills have played it right. Late Wednesday afternoon, the Bills persuaded Williams and his fiancee to scrap a plan to leave Wednesday night unless a deal was done. And Williams will indeed stay the night.
But while Williams supposedly is attending the Buffalo Sabres’ hockey game, a source with knowledge of the situation says that negotiations on a contract are moving toward some sort of a conclusion, good or bad. If the Bills truly want him (and they truly do) it won’t be cheap; Julius Peppers set the market for defensive ends two years ago at $15 million per year. It may take more than that to get Williams.
Meanwhile, the so-called Bills Mafia is getting antsy. Fans were waiting outside the team’s facility on Wednesday. And for good reason. As our NBC colleague and rabid Bills fan Luke Russert observed last night via email, landing Williams would become tangible proof that things are changing.
Thus, it’s believed that the Bills persuaded Williams to stay another night in part because the organization is feeling the pressure to get this done. And it’s also believed that, by committing publicly to their fans that Williams will be back at the team’s facility on Thursday, they have no choice but to get the deal done.
In the end, there’s a very good chance the deal won’t get done at this point only if Williams decides after two days and two nights in Western New York that he doesn’t want to live and work there.
Don’t be surprised if the team ultimately makes Williams an offer that he can’t refuse.