He was served with a one-game league imposed suspension last week for his off the field incident in the spring of 2014. He's also priority number one on Buffalo's to-do list when it comes to long term contract extensions. Marcell Dareus addressed both issues for the first time Wednesday since his league penalty was handed down.
For the Pro Bowl defensive tackle waiting for the league's decision was the most difficult part of the process.
"I'm happy we can finally move forward. It's been hanging over my head for a while," he said. "Just happy we can move forward and I can prepare myself for the season and just happy to be with my friends, my guys, my real family. Just really feeling a lot better right now."
Dareus said he addressed his one-game suspension with his teammates and that everyone has agreed to move forward. He chose to keep his comments with his fellow players to himself.
"Hopefully, this is something that Marcell and our team can learn from," said head coach Rex Ryan. "There are consequences to your actions and hopefully this is a one-time deal and we don't have to mess with it again and he's learned from it."
Ryan's debut with the Bills defense will be without Dareus for the season opener against Indianapolis, but Buffalo's sideline boss is confident their depth will be up to the task.
"Clearly he'll be missed as a player, but we have a lot of good football players. Somebody will step up, I'm confident of that," Ryan said. "We have a lot of guys, with (Corbin) Bryant, with (Alex) Carrington, specifically, and (Jarius) Wynn, (Stefan) Charles – I feel really good about those guys."
With the suspension now handed down, the focus for the club shifts to locking up Dareus with a long-term contract extension. Bills GM Doug Whaley has stated more than once that the two-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle is priority number one when it comes to new contract agreements.
Dareus is entering the final year of his rookie contract after Buffalo picked up his fifth-year option a year ago. One of the most disruptive defensive linemen in the league, Dareus was playing coy when asked about whether he wanted to be in Buffalo long term.
"We'll wait and see what the Bills do," said Dareus. "It weighs on me heavily. Heavily. I've got to go out there and really perform and do what I have to do, which I always do—really have fun with it. Whatever the outcome is, is the outcome. However they want to play it is how they play it. I'm excited. I'm excited for the upcoming year."
The impending contract negotiations with the Dareus camp are a bit unique. He is a former client of Bills owners Terry and Kim Pegula. Prior to owning the Bills, Terry and Kim Pegula owned the agency that represented Dareus. They had to divest themselves of their control of the agency before ownership of the Bills was finalized.
Dareus clearly respects that relationship, but isn't sure it will play a role when it comes to contract talks.
"Terry is a really great guy, a really great personality, a real down to earth humble guy," he said. "Our relationship is our relationship. Business is business, it's completely different. I'm pretty sure he looks at it the same way. At the same time I'm going to try my best like he knows. Whatever the outcome is I'm pretty sure he's going to make the best decision for the organization."
The contract for Dareus could be gigantic. In the wake of deals signed by Tampa Bay's Gerald McCoy and Ndamukong Suh's free agent deal with Miami, Dareus is likely to command a contract that has nine digits to the left of the decimal point. The talented defensive lineman however, is more concerned with his play than his pay.
"Whatever happens, happens. Just turn on the tape. Turn on the tape. It speaks for itself," said Dareus. "They're great guys and they play hard. I play hard. What they've got, that's not mine. I can't count what I don't have. So I'm just going to sit back and play my game and have fun and whatever the outcome is, is the outcome."