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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.

Williams joins a new-look defense that’s making the switch to a four linemen-three linebackers scheme under highly regarded defensive specialist Dave Wannstedt, who was promoted to coordinator in January. Williams will fit at the right defensive end position, playing alongside tackles Kyle Williams and Marcell Dareus.

Williams is a two-time Pro Bowl player, who is expected to be fully healthy after having surgery to repair a nagging foot injury. Dareus, the third player picked in last year’s draft, is coming off a promising rookie season in which he led the Bills with 5-1/2 sacks.

Chris Kelsay, a 10-year veteran, is expected to start at left defensive end.

Injuries and inexperience contributed heavily to the Bills defensive struggles. Buffalo finished 26th in the NFL in yards allowed and 30th in points allowed. Buffalo gave up 400-plus yards offense eight times last year, including a five-game run.

The 5,938 yards allowed were a franchise worst. And the 434 points allowed were the second most in team history.

Bills fans showed their support Williams throughout the three days of talks.

At the Buffalo Sabres NHL game against Colorado on Wednesday, chants of “We want Mar-io!” were heard throughout the arena. On Thursday morning, cars could be heard honking as they passed by Ralph Wilson Stadium. There were many fans who also showed up in the stadium parking lot looking for a chance to get a glimpse of Williams, or simply to be near their team’s facility to celebrate.