DAVIE, Fla. (AP) — Ndamukong Suh is coming to Miami, where he and his new team will both try to end their playoff droughts.
The 305-pound heavyweight in this year’s free agent class signed a $114 million, six-year deal with the Dolphins on Wednesday. The contract made Suh the highest-paid defensive player in NFL history, surpassing J.J. Watt’s $100 million, six-year deal with Houston.
The Detroit Lions went 0-2 in the postseason in Suh’s five years with them, and Miami hasn’t been to the playoffs since 2008. But the Dolphins believe the three-time first-team All-Pro defensive tackle can transform them into a contender after consecutive 8-8 seasons.
“I’m excited about the pressure,” Suh said at a news conference. “I don’t necessarily look at it as pressure. I look at it as something I’m built for.”
Suh was hailed by many as the best defensive free agent in a generation.
“Pretty exciting for us,” owner Stephen Ross said. “He’s really a dominant player in the middle of his prime.”
The high-stakes signing may define the tenure of new executive vice president of football operations Mike Tannenbaum.
“To get a player of Ndamukong’s stature says a lot about our organization,” Tannenbaum said. “The fact he chose us speaks volumes about our organization, our chance to win and the foundation that has been laid here.”
Suh’s news conference overshadowed the signing of free agent cornerback Brice McCain to a $5.5 million, two-year deal Wednesday. McCain has 19 career starts, including nine last year for the Steelers.
The Dolphins still have plenty of work to do this offseason. They must decide whether to keep, cut or trade disgruntled receiver Mike Wallace, and must replace receivers Brian Hartline and Brandon Gibson, both released earlier. They’re in the market for help at guard, and linebacker and safety must all be addressed to shore up an aging defense.
The front four now should be more formidable with the addition of Suh. He draws a double-team on almost every play, which will help free up ends Cameron Wake and Olivier Vernon, who have combined for 38 sacks in the past two seasons.
Suh has 36 sacks in five seasons, including 8½ in 2014, and might be even better against the run. The Lions had the NFL’s top-ranked rush defense last year, while the Dolphins ranked 24th.
Suh will help compensate for the loss of two starting defensive linemen. Randy Starks was released to create $5 million in cap space, and Jared Odrick signed with Jacksonville.
The Dolphins, whose 2013 season was sabotaged by a bullying scandal, pursued Suh even though he’s regarded as one of the NFL’s dirtiest players. He has lost $420,669 in fines and suspensions for on-field misbehavior, and was nearly suspended for Detroit’s playoff game at Dallas last season.
Thanks to billionaire owner Ross’ deep pockets, the Dolphins landed their top free-agent target for the third offseason in a row. They signed Wallace to a $60 million, five-year deal in 2013, and signed left tackle Branden Albert to a $47 million, five-year contract in 2014.
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This article was written by Steven Wine from The Associated Press and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.