STEVEN WINE, AP Sports Writer
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DAVIE, Fla. (AP) — Posing for cameras following his celebratory news conference, Ndamukong Suh tried on a Miami Dolphins cap, shook his head and removed it.
“Too small,” he said.
The man is large. His new contract is, too.
Suh, the 305-pound heavyweight in this year’s free agent class, signed a $114 million, six-year deal Wednesday with the Dolphins.
The contract made Suh the highest-paid defensive player in NFL history, surpassing J.J. Watt’s $100 million, six-year deal with Houston.
“That hasn’t sunk in to me just yet,” Suh said with a grin.
The agreement includes an NFL-record $60 million guaranteed, and it’s a wise investment, according to Omaha billionaire Warren Buffett. When he heard about the deal with the former Nebraska Cornhuskers star, Buffett phoned Dolphins owner Stephen Ross.
“Warren said, ‘Congratulations, you’re getting a great person. Take good care of him, because he’s going to mean a lot to you,'” Ross said.
Ross hopes Suh means more wins. 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 don’t necessarily look at it as pressure,” Suh said. “I look at it as something I’m built for. … I love exceeding my challenges. I’m a big person to talk a good game and then exceed that.”
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 season for the Steelers.
The Dolphins, whose 2013 season included 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.
“I’ve been misunderstood in a lot of ways,” Suh said. “It’s not going to be an issue here. I’m going out there to help my teammates win.”
Coach Joe Philbin, chastened by the bullying scandal, nonetheless said he welcomed Suh.
“We’ve had some really good initial meetings here, and he seems like a bright, intelligent guy,” Philbin said. “We’re looking forward to starting a new chapter here in Miami.”
Ross said the Dolphins followed the rules in their negotiations with Suh, although the NFL is looking into whether some teams settled on contract terms with free agents earlier that permitted.READ MORE: Judge Says Michigan Gov. Whitmer Won't Have To Testify In Abortion Lawsuit
Agreements were prohibited before Tuesday afternoon, and news of a framework for Suh’s deal was first reported Sunday.
“They may be looking into it, but we don’t think we did anything wrong,” Ross said.
The Dolphins were in a hurry to sign Suh because he was hailed by many as the best defensive free agent in a generation. Even so, it’s a high-stakes contract that 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.”
There’s a foundation, but 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 should be formidable, however. Suh 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 Wednesday to create $5 million in cap space, and Jared Odrick signed with Jacksonville.
Thanks to 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.
But Miami has been mired in mediocrity, and when someone described the signing of Suh as a home run for Ross, the billionaire owner disagreed.
“I haven’t hit a home run yet,” Ross said. “We haven’t won.”
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