Bills Sign Defensive End Mario Williams, Chiefs Get Hillis

Peyton Hillis
Peyton Hillis #40 of the Cleveland Browns. Photographer: Rob Carr/Getty

The Buffalo Bills signed Pro Bowl player Mario Williams to a six-year contract, adding the former top pick in the National Football League draft to a defense that ranked 26th last season.

The package contains $50 million in guaranteed money, a record for a defensive player, Williams’s agent, Ben Dogra, told the Associated Press yesterday. Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed in a news release from the team.

The 27-year-old defensive end totaled 53 sacks in 82 games and earned two Pro Bowl selections after being chosen by the Houston Texans with the first pick in the 2006 draft. He was limited to five games last year because of a torn pectoral muscle.

“The biggest thing for me is feeling comfortable, not only with my teammates but with the coaches, and I can already see the bond here,” Williams told reporters. “I look forward to working with them, turning this thing around and making it happen.”

Williams joins a franchise that was once home to Hall of Fame defensive lineman Bruce Smith, an 11-time Pro Bowl selection who played 19 seasons with the Bills and Washington Redskins.

The Kansas City Chiefs added former Cleveland Browns running back Peyton Hillis to an offense that scored the second-fewest points in the NFL last season.

Hillis Rejoins Daboll

The signing reunites Hillis with Chiefs offensive coordinator Brian Daboll, who held the same role in Cleveland in 2010, when the 250-pound Hillis rushed for 1,177 yards and 11 touchdowns while catching 61 passes out of the backfield.

Hillis’s breakout season led him to be selected by fans as the cover athlete for Electronic Arts Inc.’s Madden NFL 12 video game, beating Michael Vick of the Philadelphia Eagles in fan balloting. Hillis was limited to 10 games because of injuries last season, finishing with 587 yards rushing and three touchdowns as the Browns went 4-12.

“Peyton is a big, strong, physical back with a lot of talent and he should fit into our system well,” Chiefs coach Romeo Crennel said in a statement.

Terms weren’t disclosed.

A former seventh-round draft pick, Hillis joins a backfield that includes Jamaal Charles, who rushed for 1,467 yards in 2010 before missing 14 games last season with torn knee ligaments. Charles might not be ready for the start of the season, the Kansas City Star said.

The Chiefs had a 7-9 record last season and their 212 points scored was more than only the 2-14 St. Louis Rams.

Jaguars Sign Henne

The Jacksonville Jaguars signed former Miami Dolphins quarterback Chad Henne, the Florida Times-Union reported. Henne, 26, was a second-round draft pick of the Dolphins in 2008 and had a 13-18 record as a starter, losing all four of his starts last season before being replaced by Matt Moore.

The New Orleans Saints signed former Baltimore Ravens guard Ben Grubbs to a five-year, $36 million contract, ESPN said, one day after losing All-Pro guard Carl Nicks to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as a free agent.

The San Diego Chargers acquired a punt returner and receiver in signing Eddie Royal to a three-year contract. The fifth-year receiver caught 91 passes for 980 yards as a rookie in 2008 with the Denver Broncos and has averaged 38 catches for 376 yards since.

Chargers Sign Meachem

Royal averages 11.9 yards per punt return for his career, third in the NFL in that span behind Julian Edelman and Devin Hester. Royal’s 16.2 yards per punt return last season tied him with Hester for the league’s best mark.

In addition to Royal, the Chargers signed receiver Robert Meachem to a four-year contract two days ago. Meachem will be a starter along with Malcom Floyd, head coach Norv Turner said.

The New England Patriots re-signed Pro Bowl wide receiver Matthew Slater and signed defensive tackle Marcus Harrison. Terms of the contracts were not announced.

Slater, 26, is a veteran of four NFL seasons with the Patriots. He has been utilized as a wide receiver, kickoff returner, special teams player and on defense at safety during his NFL career. Slater finished last season with one reception for 46 yards, 10 tackles on defense and returned three kickoffs for 54 yards.

Harrison, 27, was drafted in 2008 by the Chicago Bears in the third round out of Arkansas. During his 37 career games over three seasons with the Bears, Harrison accumulated 55 tackles, 3.0 sacks and three passes defensed. The lineman was released by Chicago on Sept. 3. He was signed by the Patriots as a free agent on Oct. 14 before being released on Oct. 15.

Horton Join Giants

The New York Giants signed safety Chris Horton, who spent three seasons with the Washington Redskins but did not play in 2011. He played for the Redskins from 2008-2010 with his final two seasons cut short by injuries. He started 15 of 29 games to amass 122 tackles, three interceptions and a sack.

The Dallas Cowboys signed linebacker Dan Connor, who was drafted in 2008 by the Carolina Panthers. He has played in 42 games in his four NFL seasons with 19 starts to tally 166 tackles, one sack, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery. Connor also had 21 career special teams tackles for the Panthers.

The Denver Broncos agreed to terms with safety Mike Adams, a ninth-year player who had 114 career games with Cleveland and San Francisco. He recorded 347 tackles, four sacks, 12 interceptions, one forced fumble and four fumble recoveries, as well as 67 special-teams tackles.

‘Great Fit’

“It’s a great fit for me,” Adams told reporters. “The atmosphere is good and it felt right.”

The Chicago Bears and defensive lineman Israel Idonije reached an agreement on a one-year contract. Idonije has appeared in 118 games with the Bears during the past eight seasons to collect 222 tackles, 21 sacks, 20 tackles for losses, five forced fumbles, four fumble recoveries and 15 pass break ups. On special teams, Idonije recorded 20 tackles and eight blocked kicks.

Last season, Idonije set career-highs with 57 tackles, nine tackles for losses and two fumble recoveries, adding one forced fumble and his first career touchdown on a fumble recovery in the end zone.

The Redskins agreed to terms with two-time Pro Bowl strong safety Brandon Meriweather. The two-year deal is worth $6 million, the Washington Post reported, citing an unidentified person familiar with the negotiations.

Dolphins Duo

The Dolphins signed defensive back Richard Marshall and re-signed defensive tackle Paul Soliai.

Marshall, a former Arizona Cardinal, has played in 96 games during his career, collecting 501 tackles, 17 interceptions, two of which he returned for touchdowns and seven sacks in his first six seasons. Marshall also added nine fumble recoveries and three forced fumbles.

“It’s an up-and-coming team,” Marshall told reporters. “The defense is a great, young defense. They played well last year and really it was about the best fit for me as far as defense and then the best move for me and my family.”

During his five years with the Dolphins, Soliai has 97 tackles, two sacks, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery.

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