Mario Williams' record-breaking contract with the Buffalo Bills is about as spread out as you can get for a deal so large. That benefits both the Bills, who want the salary-cap hits to be relatively even, and Williams, who doesn't want the deal back-loaded to the point where he's sure to get released later on. In other words, it's not a phony-money deal, which the Bills don't do.
The deal is for six years and $96 million. It goes up to $100 million counting incentives. Here are the particulars, obtained by The News:
Williams got an initial signing bonus of $19 million. He gets a base salary this year of $5.9 million. In 2013, he gets an option bonus of $8 million, with a base salary of $6.5 million. In 2014, he gest a roster bonus of $10.6 million with a base salary of $1.9 million. In 2015, he gets a roster bonus of $1 million with a base salary of $12.1 million. In 2016, he gets a roster bonus of $2.5 million with a base salary of $11.5 million. In 2017, he gets a roster bonus of $3.5 million with a base salary of $11.4 million. He also has workout bonuses that amount to a total of $2.1 million over the first five years of the contract.
Williams gets $53 million over the first three years of the contract. Chicago's Julius Peppers was the previous highest paid defensive player in NFL history. His contract called for $40.5 million the first three years. So that's a significant upgrade for Williams.
The guarantees in a contract get a bit complicated. Money can be guaranteed against three events: injury (meaning the money is paid even if the player gets hurt), skill (meaning the player gets the money even if he gets cut because he's not good enough) and salary cap (meaning the player gets the money regardless of what cap problems the team encounters). The guarantee can count for any one or all of the three. In Williams' deal, the first $25 million is fully guaranteed. The next $25 million is guaranteed against injury only. Presuming he doesn't join a monastery in Tibet in the next year and he gets the $8 million option bonus, then $39.4 million will be guaranteed. The last $10.6 million guaranteed in 2014 is for injury only. Williams obviously is not going to get cut due to lack of skill. And the NFL is expected to see a big jump in the salary cap in two years when new television contracts kick in.
We should also mention a quote from Bills General Manager Buddy Nix about Jim Overdorf, Bills senior vice president of football administration, who was able to close the deal with Williams' agent. "Jim Overdorf I can’t tell you how much time he spent with Mario’s agents," Nix said. "Jim late at night and every day working on this thing, and he tried to make sure we got it done."