Source: DE Williams closer to signing with Bills

JOHN WAWROW AP Sports Writer Published:

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) -- A person familiar with the negotiations says free-agent defensive end Mario Williams is getting closer to signing with the Buffalo Bills.

The person said Thursday that while no deal is done, progress has been made on the third day of talks. The person spoke on the condition of anonymity because the negotiations are ongoing.

The Bills announced on their website earlier in the day that the star pass-rusher was at the team's headquarters.

Williams has been in talks with Buffalo since free agency began Tuesday. Selected first overall in the 2006 draft by Houston, Williams had a franchise-best 53 sacks in six seasons with the Texans.

Listed at 6-foot-6 and 285 pounds, Williams is a two-time Pro Bowl starter, and set a single-season team record with 14 sacks in 2007. Williams was limited to playing just five games last season as a result of a torn chest muscle. He also missed three games in 2010 after having surgery to repair a sports hernia.

After quarterback Peyton Manning, Williams has been regarded as one of the top free agents available this offseason.

The Bills regard improving their pass rush as their top offseason priority, and have spared no expense in their bid to land Williams. General manager Buddy Nix and defensive coordinator Dave Wannstedt flew on a private jet to pick up Williams at his home in North Carolina to bring him back to Buffalo.

Williams spent Tuesday night dining with team management and coaches at a downtown restaurant. After taking a physical and touring the Bills facility on Wednesday morning, Williams was joined by his fiancée, who traveled to Buffalo, and was provided a tour of the region.

Bills management has said it intends to be aggressive in free agency this offseason. And signing Williams would come at a hefty price for a small-market team that has hit hard times since its Jim Kelly-led heyday in the early 1990s.

The Bills are coming off a 6-10 season, and have missed the playoffs for 12 straight years -- the NFL's longest active drought.