The Miami Dolphins scored a big name early in the free agency period today when they agreed to terms with defensive end Mario Williams. The Dolphins and Williams had a two day visit over the weekend and rumors had swirled over the last 24 hours that Miami were the front runners to land Williams, though Williams was expected to continue to take visits.
Things started to change when reports surfaced that a scheduled visit between Williams and the New York Giants had been cancelled. Williams was also expected to visit with the Jacksonville Jaguars, but that trip never materialized.
Williams was released by the Buffalo Bills at the beginning of the month, making him eligible to immediately sign with any team. Players with contracts expiring when the new league year begins have to wait until 4pm ET Wednesday to sign their new contracts.
Williams' new contract is expected to pay him around $8 million per year, according to a report from NFL Network's Ian Rapoport. The deal is for two years, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter.
Williams spent the last four years with the Bills after starting his career with the Houston Texans, where he was the first overall selection in the 2006 NFL Draft. In his career, Williams has 96 sacks, along with 386 tackles, 21 passes defensed, 16 forced fumbles, five fumble recoveries, and a touchdown. He has been named to the Pro Bowl four times, including two back-to-back trips in 2013 and 2014 with the Bills, as well as having been a 2014 First-Team All-Pro selection.
The 2015 season was a disappointment for Williams, who only recorded five sacks, tied for the second lowest in his career and the first time since 2011, when he only played in five games, that he did not break into double digits in sacks. Williams never seemed comfortable in Rex Ryan's defensive scheme last year, which made him a 3-4 outside linebacker rather than his normal 4-3 defensive end role, and will now be looking for a system in which he can return to form in 2016.
The Dolphins have also agreed to a trade with the Philadelphia Eagles that would send cornerback Byron Maxwell and linebacker Kiko Alonso to South Florida. Rumors have circulated on the rest of the compensation involved in the trade, but nothing has officially been reported yet.
The team could also look to remove the transition tag from defensive end Olivier Vernon, making him an unrestricted free agent, who is expected to sign elsewhere once the free agency period opens on Wednesday.