Free-agent thoughts, Mario edition

March, 15, 2012
3/15/12
1:28
PM ET
Sharing thoughts on some of the big moves around the NFL, as they relate to the Patriots...

The Buffalo Bills closing the deal with marquee free-agent Mario Williams is the big story of the day and it hits home here in the AFC East. The deal is six years and worth as much as $100 million, with $50 million in bonuses/guarantees, according to ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter.

The Patriots weren't going to spend that kind of money in free agency. A deal like that would have been more than twice as much as the team's highest-paid defensive player, Vince Wilfork.

As noted by NFL Network's Mike Lombardi, who has strong ties to the Patriots, in an appearance on sports radio WEEI, "Mario is making is making so much money and I think New England is going to be cognizant of Vince Wilfork's $8 million a year. I think that's one thing that the Patriots have done a great job of -- they don't bring anybody in the locker room that makes more than some of their own players and they don't cause that dissention amongst their own team."

As for the football aspect of this move, the idea is likely that the Bills have to get past the Patriots in the AFC East, and they aren't close right now. Williams, like Julius Peppers two years ago with the Bears, has the potential to completely revamp their defense and give them a chance to slow down Tom Brady and the Patriots.

It's risky putting that much into one player, but if you're the Bills, what do you have to lose anyway?

This is a team that hasn't been to the playoffs since 1999. It's a region that has been through some hard times in recent years.

The signing provides some hope and we can all use some of that at times.

All that said, I still view the Patriots as the class of the division.

Mike Reiss

ESPN New England Patriots reporter

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