Mr. Big Stuff’s Buffalo Story

ORCHARD PARK, NY - SEPTEMBER 10: Marcell Dareus /
WATKINS GLEN, NY – AUGUST 07: Marcell Dareus of the Buffalo Bills speaks to the media prior to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Cheez-It 355 at Watkins Glen International on August 7, 2016 in Watkins Glen, New York. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Getty Images)
WATKINS GLEN, NY – AUGUST 07: Marcell Dareus of the Buffalo Bills speaks to the media prior to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Cheez-It 355 at Watkins Glen International on August 7, 2016 in Watkins Glen, New York. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Getty Images) /

The story of Marcell Dareus as a Buffalo Bills has come to an end. The Bills are changing the culture and exiling all those who don’t fit, no exceptions.

After the 2010 season, the Buffalo Bills had the 3rd pick in the NFL draft. Their highest first-round selection in nearly 20 years. The selection had all the making of a franchise player.

When NFL teams are picking in the top 5, and especially the top 3, they are looking for a face of the franchise. Regardless of position, a pick in the top 3 of the NFL draft is deemed unsuccessful if that pick doesn’t set the bar for the franchise over the next 7-10 seasons.

In the 2011 draft, the Bills picked Marcell Dareus, who would eventually take over the reins of the defense from Kyle Williams, and instantly create one of the most dominant defensive lines in the NFL.

Here’s how the first six picks of the 2011 NFL draft played out:




1.       Cam NewtonCarolina PanthersAuburn2.       Von MillerDenver BroncosTexas A&M3.       Marcell DareusBuffalo BillsAlabama4.       A.J GreenCincinnati BengalsGeorgia5.       Patrick PetersonArizona CardinalsLSU6.       Julio JonesAtlanta Falcons (trade from Cleveland)Alabama

With Dareus, the Bills would later set a franchise record for sacks in a season, create the Cold Front, along with Williams, Mario Williams, and Jerry Hughes, and be one of the more beloved fan favorite players.

Then there was that one hiccup. In May of 2015, he violated the league’s substance abuse policy and would be suspended week 1 of the 2015 season. After evaluating the situation, it seemed to be just a one-off, and the Bills signed Dareus into a hefty six year, $96.5 million contract in September, when he returned from suspension.

Then the big red flag that follows Marcell happened again. In August of 2016, he was suspended again, this time four games, for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. The fact is, the highest paid player on the team, and the cornerstone of what the Bills were going to do under GM Doug Whaley, would miss a quarter of the season. When he returned, he was playing catchup, so much so he had hamstring issues upon arrival. The Bills season just couldn’t get on track, which lead to a total leadership change, new GM, and new Head Coach.

The new regime in Buffalo’s top priority this season was to change the culture. McDermott has already famously said that “We’re not collecting talent, we’re building a team” which came with mixed reviews from fans.

When Beane and McDermott arrived, we were all focused on what would happen with Tyrod Taylor. One of their top targets from the start, was Marcell Dareus. He had the largest team contract, the largest amount of talent. If Dareus could buy into the culture of McDermott, he would be the face of the franchise like originally intended.

In a conference call with media following the trade of Dareus, Beane said as much, “When you come into a new city, and you look at the roster, you obviously look at, OK, he’s a guy that you flag for two reasons. A) He’s a higher-salary guy. B) He had a prior history with [suspensions due to violating the NFL’s substance-abuse policy]. So you do want to see how those guys fit.”

The Bills were saying all the right things about Dareus during training camp. However, immediately before the Bills 2nd preseason game, he was mysteriously sent home. Not just told he wouldn’t play for violating a rule, sent home from Baltimore to Buffalo while the rest of the team played.

From that point on, Dareus was a marked man. The Bills had already traded Sammy Watkins and Ronald Darby, they were clearly looking for a roster makeover.

buffalo bills pro bowl
OAKLAND, CA – DECEMBER 04: Marcell Dareus #99 of the Buffalo Bills warms up prior to their NFL game against the Oakland Raiders at Oakland Alameda Coliseum on December 4, 2016 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images) /

What makes this trade different though? This is the first trade for the Bills that would indicate a ‘tank’. ‘Tank’ is a word that the team has used as motivation, and one they didn’t speak about until after this past week’s win over the Bucs. Why weren’t they tanking after unloading Darby, Watkins, Kevon Seymour, and company? Simple, they always got NFL ready players in return who would compete for starting roles, and compete every play for wins.

Trading Dareus didn’t result in any players coming back from Jacksonville to Buffalo to assist with this season. This trade is strictly a salary dump.The Bills had a willing partner in Jacksonville who has the cap space and the coach who led Dareus during his most successful NFL seasons.

When Dareus was at his peak, he was playing in nearly 70% of the team snaps. This season he is playing in 33.3% of the snaps according to Spotrac.  His ability is still there, and so is his talent. This coaching staff, much like the Rex Ryan staff, can not get Dareus motivated to dominate games.

Based on those playing percentages for Dareus, this isn’t going to have a lot of on-field impact. The way this trade effects the Bills is solely on this season, and how the Bills players psyche conceptualize this move.

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McDermott has his work cut out for him to keep the locker room engaged. The record puts the Bills in the playoff chase after six games. This move depletes the talent from an already depleted team. McDermott has been masterful in motivating and getting the most out of this team, does he have one more big trick to pull?

McDermott has leaned on Kyle Williams a lot this year. What does Kyle Williams think of this move, and does he support it? Williams has been putting Dareus under his wing since Dareus arrived in Buffalo, maybe removing Dareus frees some of the stresses on Williams?

Once this season ends, this move is a win for the Bills, because it frees up cap space, and in 2019 takes all financial burden off the books. There are players who are playing well that need to be re-signed or at least considered. Players like Preston Brown who has played well under three different regimes, and who is deserving of a bigger deal.

I like this trade. I like Mr. Big Stuff as well, I mean the dude rocks a sailor’s hat regularly. I want to see Dareus turn his career back onto the track he was on during his rookie contract. He will be flanked by one of the best defenses in the NFL. Dareus has zero excuses while in Jacksonville. He needs and gets a change of scenery. Dareus should call his now ex-Bills teammate Jerry Hughes for advice on how to completely revive a career following a trade.

I don’t like this trade due to the timing of it. If this happened in the off-season, or if the Bills were 2-4 instead I may think differently. The Bills need to get re-focused for Oakland. They need to keep their defensive line rotation in rhythm and get a win to quiet any negativity that may be leaking in following this move.

The Bills aren’t, and have never been ‘tanking’. They are doing what they set out to do from the start and ‘Change the Culture.’ You’re highest paid player, should be the example for the rest of the team, both on and off the field. Marcel Dareus in Buffalo, couldn’t do what Cam Newton, Von Miller, AJ Green, Patrick Peterson, and Julio Jones have done, and are doing for their franchises.

Next: Marcell Dareus has been traded to the Jacksonville Jaguars

In the long game of post-draft evaluation, the Bills hit on a hall of fame talented player. However, they missed on the intangible grade that keeps a player motivated to be a franchise player for 7-10 seasons.