The Bills made some big waves across the NFL when it was announced that headline free agent Mario Williams would travel to Buffalo to meet with the team before entertaining any other suitors.
On Tuesday night, less than five hours after the 4 p.m. start of the NFL free agency period, Williams had already arrived in Buffalo and Bills officials were confident that the Houston Texans defensive end would sign with the team. The Bills are so confident in fact, that the team said they “fully expect” to sign both Williams and New Orleans Saints wide receiver Robert Meachem within 24 hours, according to WGR 550 in Buffalo.
Both Williams and Meachem went to dinner with a number of members of the Bills staff on Tuesday night, including head coach Chan Gailey, defensive coordinator Dave Wannstedt and defensive tackle Kyle Williams, according to the report.
Williams, the first overall selection in the 2006 NFL Draft, is the biggest defensive free-agent prize since Reggie White back in 1993. Peyton Manning‘s sudden presence on the market has certainly sucked a lot of the excitement out of Williams’ search, but the two-time Pro Bowler is still expected to command more than $100 million with his new contract.
In 2011, Williams only played five games while switching to the outside linebacker role in a new base 3-4 defense with the Texans. He was still able to manage five sacks in the short span and seemed to be adapting well to the new system before a torn pectoral muscle sidelined him for the rest of the year. Williams’ best season was in 2007, when he recorded 59 tackles and 14 sacks on the way to his first Pro Bowl.
Meachem got off to a slow start in his career, missing his entire rookie season with a knee injury after being selected 27th overall in the 2007 NFL Draft. After struggling through his first full season in 2008, catching just 12 passes in 14 games, Meachem began to really pick it up in recent seasons hauling in better than 40 passes and five touchdowns in each of the past three years.
Both players would have an immediate impact on a Buffalo team with plenty of talent, with the likes of quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, running back Fred Jackson and receiver Steve Johnson, but muddled in mediocrity once again in 2011 with a 6-10 record.