Mario Williams' marriage with the Buffalo Bills didn't seem built to last given his rising salary and production drop-off in head coach Rex Ryan's system last season. On Tuesday, ESPN's Josina Anderson and NFL Network's Ian Rapoport reported Williams was released by the Bills.
Tim Graham of the Buffalo News, citing a source, reported Feb. 25 that Williams was "just waiting to be cut, and the sooner, the better" for the 31-year-old.
Rumblings of Williams' departure from Buffalo, where he has played the last four seasons, have been around since before the conclusion of the 2015 season.
John Wawrow of the Associated Press reported Dec. 31 the Bills were planning to release Williams during the offseason:
High-priced defensive end Mario Williams will be cut by the Bills this offseason, a person with direct knowledge of discussions told The Associated Press on Thursday. The person spoke on the condition of anonymity because the team does not publicly discuss its player personnel plans.
No timetable was provided as to when Williams will be cut, but the person said the team's top pass-rushing threat's final game will be Buffalo's home game against the New York Jets (10-5). The Bills (7-8) have already been eliminated from the playoffs.
That came one week after Williams openly criticized Ryan's scheme following a Week 15 loss against Washington, per Mike Rodak of ESPN.com: "If we win and we're 10-4, or whatever, hey, hats off. But if it don't work, yeah, there needs to be a different change. So if one person is singled out as that needs to be done, then so be it. That's not my decision."
Williams did go out on a relative high note with one sack in the Bills' 22-17 win over the New York Jets.
Williams told Anderson (via Rodak) he would be open to discussing a pay cut with the Bills on Feb. 24. In Rodak's report, Ryan said he would "love" to have Williams back before adding, "We'll see how realistic that is."
Williams had cap hits of $19.9 million and $16.5 million for the final two years of his contract, respectively, per Spotrac. Wawrow's report noted the Bills could save $12 million against the salary cap by releasing Williams.
Even though Williams' time in Buffalo ended, he should get another job quickly. The former No. 1 overall pick is just one year removed from setting a career high with 14.5 sacks.
Williams is a pass-rushing specialist who needs to be used in that role. That will limit the number of teams who want to sign him, but there is always room in the NFL for a player with a proven track record of sacking the quarterback.