The Miami Dolphins signed star defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, arguably the best defensive tackle in the NFL, on Wednesday with owner Steve Ross looking on excitedly.
Suh, the four-time All Pro, signed a six-year deal worth $114 million with $60 million guaranteed. It's the biggest contract given to a defensive player in NFL history.
"I feel like this team has a great nucleus and it's just about finding some other pieces to get us over the hump and make a run," Suh said at his introductory news conference on Wednesday.
Big free agent signings are nothing new for Ross, the billionaire real estate developer. He signed wide receiver Mike Wallace in 2013 for five years and $60 million, and signed left tackle Branden Albert in 2014 for five years and $47 million.
"They have a great owner that wants to win, and knows the process of doing that," Suh said of Ross.
Suh, a beast against the run and pass, will team with fellow tackle Earl Mitchell and ends Cam Wake and Olivier Vernon to form what the Dolphins hope will be one of the best lines in the league.
Suh has 36 sacks and 180 tackles in his six-year career, and his presence is expected to make everyone on the defense better, from the linemen to the linebackers to the secondary.
"I understand that I have to speak up, and I will do that. But you also have to show people the right way," Suh said.
But even with Suh in the fold, the Dolphins find themselves trying to plug holes.
The Dolphins released defensive tackle Randy Starks on Wednesday, which saved $5 million in cap space. However, by releasing Starks, they also lose a two-time Pro Bowl selection who was a quality run stuffer.
And the Dolphins are still sweating out the situation with tight end Charles Clay, who they made their transition player, assuring him of $7 million in 2015, but it's expected Buffalo will make a strong run at him with a multi-year contract.
Before finalizing the Suh deal on Wednesday, the Dolphins went about other business such as hosting Cleveland tight end Jordan Cameron and signing Pittsburgh cornerback Brice McCain to a two-year contract.
But even with Starks' release, hosting free agents and still shopping for free agents, the biggest thing the Dolphins accomplished Wednesday was signing Suh, who joins Wake, punter Brandon Fields, cornerback Brent Grimes, left tackle Branden Albert and center Mike Pouncey as key players with Pro Bowl credentials.
The problem is the Dolphins had to cut so much talent to make room for Suh – Starks, wide receivers Brian Hartline and Brandon Gibson, cornerback Cortland Finnegan, guards Shelley Smith and Nate Garner – they might not be much better today than they were entering Game 16 last season.