ORCHARD PARK, NY – After suffering two serious neck injuries in as many seasons, the Bills have reportedly decided to part ways with fan favorite, safety Aaron Williams, according to a report from the NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport.
The #Bills are releasing safety Aaron Williams, source said.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) March 9, 2017
The Bills confirmed that report shortly thereafter.
Williams was already contemplating retirement after a vicious crack-block from Dolphins receiver Jarvis Landry this past season, reaggravated a neck ailment that the 27-year-old had sustained in the previous campaign. He’d miss the Bills final nine games of 2016 and has played in only 10 games each of the last two seasons.
During locker room clean out back in January, Williams was noncommittal on the idea of retirement. Several reports since then however, hinted at the 2011 second-round pick returning. If Williams does ultimately decide to keep playing football it won’t be with the Bills.
Right now, releasing Williams will save the Bills an additional $1.775 million in cap space, but if Buffalo designated him as a June 1-cut, the savings would jump to upwards of $4.2 million. That money would not be available to Buffalo until after June 1 though, and a dead cap number of $2.425 million would be pushed onto their 2018 salary cap.
Essentially, the Bills are still on the hook for the remaining $2.6 million of Williams signing bonus and the $2.25 million of his option bonus. Together, that $4.85 million figure immediately counts against the 2017 cap upon his release. However, making Williams a June 1 cut would allow the Bills to keep those bonuses prorated into 2018. Instead of counting each figure all at once, Buffalo be on the hook for just $1.3 million of the signing bonus and $1.25 million of his option bonus in 2017 ($2.55 million in total), which happen to be the original prorated amounts for each remaining year of the contract. What’s left of each would count against next year’s cap.
The loss of Williams, coupled with the news that UFA Stephon Gilmore is signing with the Patriots, leaves the Bills secondary extremely hollow at the moment. Veteran Corey Graham is the only safety on the roster with any substantial experience, while just four cornerbacks are currently under contract for next season.
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