Marcell Dareus is worth his big contract

Neil Hornsby explains why Marcell Dareus is worth the huge contract extension he signed with Buffalo on Thursday.

| 2 years ago
(AP Photo/Bill Wippert)

(AP Photo/Bill Wippert)

Marcell Dareus is worth his big contract

Buffalo Bills defensive tackle Marcell Dareus got paid Thursday, to the tune of a six-year, $100 million deal with $60 million guaranteed – a contract so large that many may read “paid” as “overpaid.”

It’s difficult to judge NFL contracts these days, because much of their value is determined by when the contract is actually completed. For example, Russell Wilson is now the second-highest-paid QB in the NFL on a per-year basis – now, nobody outside of Wilson’s close family would argue he is the second-best QB in the league, but it’s hard to argue with the contract he received, because he was the most recent of the bigger-name passers to sign his contract.

That’s important to keep in mind for Dareus, as he can still be worth that big contract even if he isn’t better than every player at his position who is making less than him. That’s particularly true because of the fact that he’s making more than J.J. Watt, a player so much better than anyone else in the NFL (at any position) that comparing Dareus to him (they’re both interior defensive linemen) is completely unfair.

So, just how good is Dareus? He ranks third in our PFF ratings among interior defenders heading into 2015, slightly ahead of the Dolphins’ Ndamukong Suh, who actually gets paid more than Dareus and is commonly perceived as the superior player. Both are effective interior pass-rushers, but Dareus is better against the run.

In short, based on production alone, Dareus is worthy of the type of contract the Bills awarded him on Thursday. I might consider him the fifth- or sixth-best interior linemen, when taking into account other qualitative factors, and the Bills might have to hold their breath over any future off-field transgressions from Dareus (he’s suspending for Week 1 this season). But as a player, he warrants this deal.

| PFF Founder

Neil founded PFF in 2006 and is currently responsible for the service to the company's 22 NFL team customers. He is constantly developing new insights into the game and player performance.

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  • Engaged Reader

    The only person overpaid by a greater amount is Mary Mitchell, who is spamming for whatever overseas scam du jour ($9k per month from home–WOW!). Dareus is a very good player, but $16 Mil per year is absurd. This doesn’t even address the fact that because of the minor prior suspension he could be subjected to a lengthier suspension for a relatively minor transgression. To the extent that the contract is largely fictional (back loaded) and won’t actually be paid, so be it.

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  • Adrian Edwards

    In order to agree with this argument you first have to agree with the underlying assumption that ANY interior defensive lineman is worth this much. I think Watt is, but I wouldn’t give any other defensive lineman this kind of money. Is Dareus worth 60% more than Kuechly? I don’t think so.

    • Jeff Goldman

      I would bet you haven’t personally watched Marcel Dareus play a full game. He is one of the few interior lineman who consistently gets interior pressure on the QB AND if you don’t double team him in the running game he will blow up any play between the tackles. He was the ONLY defensive tackle with 10 sacks last year. He can play any of the interior line positions (Nose tackle (O gap over center), 1 gap penetrator, and even a 3-technique 3-4 end. Also they have him for the entire prime of his career – age 25 – Age 31 (This is his fourth season with back-back Pro Bowls and his first All Pro selection in 2014). This defensive line (called the best ever by Bruce Smith) has already played together for 2 years (with K Williams, M Williams, and Marcel in their 4th year together). He is behind Watt (just like everyone else on defense in the league) but he is just as good as Suh, McCoy, Donald or anyone else inside. He will anchor the Bills defense for the next 7 years (this year included). This D-Line had 57 sacks in 2014 (and just missing all four lineman with 10 Sacks+ as Dareus only had 8.5) under Mike Pettine’s version of the Ryan defense AND last year with Jim Schwartz lined up as a 4-3 base defense and had another 54 sacks with a ton of pressures. With Average QB play from Tyrod Taylor (had a very good first start against Indy) they will be a playoff team and could challenge NE for the top (next week @ home is huge for Buffalo if they want to go for 1st in AFC East).