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Marcell Dareus is worth his big contract

Buffalo Bills defensive tackle Marcell Dareus got paid Thursday, to the tune of a six-year, $100 million deal with $60 million guaranteed – a contract so large that many may read “paid” as “overpaid.”

It’s difficult to judge NFL contracts these days, because much of their value is determined by when the contract is actually completed. For example, Russell Wilson is now the second-highest-paid QB in the NFL on a per-year basis – now, nobody outside of Wilson’s close family would argue he is the second-best QB in the league, but it’s hard to argue with the contract he received, because he was the most recent of the bigger-name passers to sign his contract.

That’s important to keep in mind for Dareus, as he can still be worth that big contract even if he isn’t better than every player at his position who is making less than him. That’s particularly true because of the fact that he’s making more than J.J. Watt, a player so much better than anyone else in the NFL (at any position) that comparing Dareus to him (they’re both interior defensive linemen) is completely unfair.

So, just how good is Dareus? He ranks third in our PFF ratings among interior defenders heading into 2015, slightly ahead of the Dolphins’ Ndamukong Suh, who actually gets paid more than Dareus and is commonly perceived as the superior player. Both are effective interior pass-rushers, but Dareus is better against the run.

In short, based on production alone, Dareus is worthy of the type of contract the Bills awarded him on Thursday. I might consider him the fifth- or sixth-best interior linemen, when taking into account other qualitative factors, and the Bills might have to hold their breath over any future off-field transgressions from Dareus (he’s suspending for Week 1 this season). But as a player, he warrants this deal.

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