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Top-paid defender: Mario Williams

Mario Williams, with Bills coach Chan Gailey, right, and GM Buddy Nix, has $50 million of his $100M deal guaranteed.

Associated Press

Mario Williams, with Bills coach Chan Gailey, right, and GM Buddy Nix, has $50 million of his $100M deal guaranteed.

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — New England quarterback Tom Brady might want to watch his back. The Jets' Mark Sanchez, too.

After spending the past six seasons harassing quarterbacks for the Texans, defensive end Mario Williams has found new motivation in a huge contract and a new home in the AFC East with the Bills.

"I'm ecstatic, very excited. I can't wait for the opportunity," Williams said Thursday after signing a six-year deal potentially worth $100 million. "There's no pressure. I've played against great quarterbacks. And I'm looking forward to playing against these quarterbacks, chasing them down and making things happen."

Williams' deal, which includes $50 million in guaranteed money, is the richest ever given to an NFL defensive player. Terms were provided by the player's agent, Ben Dogra.

"We got a lot better," Buffalo general manager Buddy Nix said, noting that the Bills addressed their highest offseason priority, improving a defense that managed 27 sacks in 2010, and 29 sacks in 2011.

Listed at 6 feet 6 and 285 pounds, Williams is a two-time Pro Bowl starter and had a franchise-best 53 sacks in six seasons with the Texans, who drafted him No. 1 overall in 2006. He was limited to five games last season because of a torn chest muscle, but Williams said he's healthy now.

Manning derby: Now Peyton Manning needs to decide what happens next.

All indications are that the Broncos, Cardinals and Titans are still in the running to sign the former Colts star.

Titans owner Bud Adams told KHOU radio in Houston on Wednesday that he has offered Manning a contract "for life" and said he "feels great" about the chances of landing Manning.

ESPN and other media said free agent QB Matt Flynn was planning to visit the Dolphins after his trip to Seattle, an indication that the Dolphins know they won't get Manning.

If there's no word from Manning by today, the Cardinals might have to move on. Arizona will decide by 4 p.m. today whether to release quarterback Kevin Kolb, who would be due $7 million if he is on the roster Saturday.

Jaguars QB duel? Jacksonville signed quarterback Chad Henne to a two-year contract worth nearly $6.75 million on Wednesday, envisioning him as a backup to Blaine Gabbert. But on Thursday, coach Mike Mularkey created a buzz when he spoke about Henne, who passed for 31 touchdowns and 37 interceptions in 36 games for the Dolphins. "He's coming in as a backup, competing for a starting job," Mularkey said. "We don't want anybody here that's very comfortable and wants to be in a backup role."

nameless are 'Gutless': Quarterback Mark Sanchez said he and receiver Santonio Holmes have ended their feud that contributed to the Jets' demise last season, but he described unnamed teammates who criticized him as "gutless," ESPN.com reported. Sanchez said he and Holmes cleared the air at a recent dinner, adding: "I know it can work between us. It's not a question of if, it's just a matter of when — and that's now." Later in a radio interview, Sanchez fired back at players who were quoted anonymously in newspaper stories. "It is a gutless thing to do," he said.

Viking acquitted: Cornerback Chris Cook was acquitted of all charges that he assaulted his girlfriend in October and said he will get ready to play this season. Cook said he acted in self-defense when the fight turned physical.

TRANSACTIONS

Bears: Free agent DE Israel Idonije agreed to a one-year contract.

Broncos: Former Browns S Mike Adams agreed to terms.

Browns: Free agent DE Frostee Rucker (Bengals) agreed to a five-year, $21 million contract. OL Oniel Cousins and TE Alex Smith, both backups, re-signed.

Chargers: WR/PR Eddie Royal (Broncos) agreed to a three-year, $13.5 million deal, $6 million guaranteed.

Chiefs: TE Kevin Boss (Raiders) agreed to terms on a three-year, $9 million contract.

Cowboys: Free agent S Brodney Pool (Jets) agreed to a one-year deal. Free agent LB Dan Connor (Panthers) agreed to a two-year deal and is expected to compete at inside linebacker.

Dolphins: G-T Artis Hicks signed a one-year deal, his agent said.

49ers: CB Shawntae Spencer was released.

Giants: S Chris Horton, who last played for the Redskins in 2010, signed.

Patriots: Special teams captain Matthew Slater and DT Marcus Harrison re-signed.

Redskins: Former Bears S Brandon Meriweather agreed to a two-year, $6 million deal.

Saints: G Ben Grubbs agreed to a five-year, $36 million contract, replacing Carl Nicks, who left for the Bucs. Grubbs gets $16 million guaranteed, including a $10 million signing bonus.

Titans: Free agent G Steve Hutchinson (Vikings) agreed to a multiyear contract. Terms not released.

Top-paid defender: Mario Williams 03/15/12 [Last modified: Thursday, March 15, 2012 11:49pm]
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