A person familiar with the situation confirmed to The Associated Press that Lotulelei reached an agreement to sign a five-year contract with the Bills. The person spoke on the condition of anonymity because the signing the former Carolina Panthers starter wont become official until the NFLs business year opens on Wednesday.
A few hours later, the Bills announced agreeing to a one-year, $6 million deal to re-sign Williams, who revealed his plan all along was to return.
As eloquently as I can put it, I havent exhausted myself in pursuit of what my dream is of playing this game, or playing for this organization and chasing being a champion, Williams said during a conference call. Buffalo is my home. Its where I want to be. Its where I want to win. And I couldnt be more excited.
The moves bulk up Buffalos defensive front by filling both tackle starting positions a day before the start of free agency.
Lotulelei had four sacks in 2016, but only 1.5 last year. Of course, as a player that is essentially a nose tackle, sacks arent the end-all-be-all for how he influences the team. But McDermott will likely ask for a lot out of Lotulelei out of the gate, especially for a five-year deal with a player he knows. Lotulelei was mostly a space-eater for the Panthers — Ron Rivera acknowledged as much — but Lotulelei was 45th of 49 defensive tackles that took at least 50 percent of snaps in 2017, according to Pro Football Focus.
Kyle Williams said there was never a doubt in his mind about returning to the Bills
Just as important, the Bills retained a steadying presence in their locker after losing veteran center Eric Wood, who was diagnosed with a career-ending neck injury in January.
Williams was an unquestioned leader on a patchwork, rebuilding team that exceeded expectations with a 9-7 record and ended a 17-season playoff drought. The 34-year-old is so highly regarded, coach Sean McDermott would grow emotional in discussing what the player meant to the team.
Its hard not to gravitate toward a guy like that, because of who he is as a person more so than anything, McDermott said of Williams in December. How could you not like the way he plays and appreciate that, right?
Williams returns to his familiar spot in the middle, which hes held since being selected in the fifth round of the 2006 draft. And hell be playing alongside the 28-year-old Lotulelei, who takes over after Buffalo traded Marcell Dareus to Jacksonville in October.
Kyle Williams agrees to terms with Bills for 2018 season
Im all for bringing on as many good football players as we can, Williams said, referring to Lotulelei.
Listed at 6-foot-3 and 311 pounds, Lotulelei was a five-year starter with Carolina after being selected by the Panthers in the first round of the 2013 draft out of Utah.
The native of Tonga is reunited with McDermott, who was Panthers defensive coordinator before taking over in Buffalo in January 2017. Bills general manager Brandon Beane is also familiar with Lotulelei and played a role in drafting him after previously serving as Panthers assistant GM.
“A lot of things have to happen, a lot of things have to play out,” Williams said. “I believe whole heartedly that you dont win championships or dont win games by looking at paper and looking at who you have or who you dont have. Thats why you play the game. Thats why you hold guys accountable to the standard that you have. And you go out and compete your tail off and you try to make it happen. Theres a whole lot of things that are going to happen between now and when we kick the football off in September.”
Bills to sign ex-Panther Star Lotuleilei to 5-year deal, Kyle Williams to return for 13th season
Lotulelei has forced two fumbles and has 11 1/2 sacks in 76 career games, and was voted to the NFL all-rookie team in 2013. His future in Carolina was uncertain after the Panthers signed defensive tackle Kawann Short to a five-year, $80 million contract extension last offseason, and also used a first-round pick for Vernon Butler last year.
Williams is a one-time All-Pro and five-time Pro Bowl selection. He showed no signs of slowing last year, with 41 tackles and three sacks in starting all 16 games. Overall, his 43 1/2 sacks are the most by a defensive tackle in franchise history.
The NFL is unpredictable, so Williams didnt know for sure if everything would work out, but he knew he wanted to play his age-35 season. So after the tears had dried and the aches and pains subsided, Williams got to work with the Bills on getting a deal done. The two sides agreed to a one-year, $6 million contract on Tuesday that guarantees Williams $5 million.
Williams has no expectation of taking on a diminished role after leading Buffalos defensive linemen by playing 758 snaps last year.
I prepare myself to play as many as I possibly can because mentality-wise, I feel like were a better football team when Im on the field, he said. Im coming back to play. Im not coming back to say, Oh, hey listen, Ill just play 25, 30 snaps a game and let you guys fight over the rest.
Buffalos defensive front seven has numerous needs with starting linebackers Preston Brown and Ramon Humber eligible to become free agents. The Bills finished 26th in yards allowed and gave up 140 or more yards rushing eight times, including a 10-3 loss to Jacksonville in the AFC wild-card playoff game.
Lotuleleis addition is the latest bold move made by Beane in reshaping Buffalos roster since being hired in May to replace Doug Whaley.
Beane has already completed two trades over the past week in dealing quarterback Tyrod Taylor to Cleveland and sending starting offensive tackle Cordy Glenn to Cincinnati. Buffalo moved up nine spots in the first round by acquiring the Bengals selection, 12th overall, as part of the Glenn trade.
The deals continued strengthening Buffalos bid for selecting one of several highly regarded quarterback prospects in the first round next month. The Bills have two picks in each of the first three rounds, including the 22nd selection.
It goes back to really believing in and trusting what Brandon and Sean are doing, Williams said. I believe in their vision of what theyve trying to build. And so for me, Im on board with what theyre doing.
BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) Bills defensive tackle Kyle Williams is putting off retirement to return for a 13th season in Buffalo.
Williams agreed to a one-year contract, the Bills announced Tuesday, a day before the NFL’s free agency period opened. Williams’ contract had expired and he didn’t rule out the possibility of retiring for a second consecutive offseason.
The 34-year-old has established himself as the team’s most respected leader both on and off the field. Williams is a one-time All-Pro and five-time Pro Bowl selection and been a starter since the Bills selected him in the fifth round of the 2006 draft out of LSU.