- Paul Kuharsky, ESPN Staff Writer
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I see both sides of Mario Williams.
I see why Buffalo put together a ridiculous package to lure him to Western New York, with $50 million guaranteed. The Bills think he will be a productive player and that a big-time pass-rusher can transform a defense. As a bonus, luring the top defensive free agent sends a message to other players in the league about the Bills as a team and Buffalo as a destination.
I see why the Texans were content to watch him walk away. They have cap issues and while I am sure they made him a nice offer, they couldn’t get in the ballpark, financially, with the Bills. Williams has been a force at times, but too often he was fighting through nagging injuries that made him not himself. When he was lost for the season after five games, the defense thrived anyway.
You can make the case that Jerome Solomon did in the Houston Chronicle: "Mario Williams has always looked better than he played. He’s long and lean, yet muscularly defined, and at 6-6, 290 pounds is faster than men his size are supposed to be.”
Solomon also wrote:
Many are upset that Williams recently said becoming the highest paid defensive player in NFL history wasn’t important to him.
Then he went out and became the highest paid defensive player in NFL history.
His departure is a shot in the gut to the Texans, who feel they are primed to be a Super Bowl contender. Why wouldn’t Williams want to be part of that? I’d estimate he has around 100 million reasons.
The Texans did want to keep Williams – losing one of your more talented players isn’t how you improve as a team. Texans general manager Rick Smith tried to talk him into staying, but money talks. While the Bills’ bills were shouting, the Texans’ dollars, thanks to their salary cap situation, could do little more than whisper.
Odds are the Texans defense isn’t as good next season as it was this past one, when so much went right.
But even if the defense takes a step back, it’s unlikely to be because Williams is missing.