The free agency frenzy, trading outbreak and stunning retirements of the first day of the NFL’s business year gave way to one headliner Wednesday: Ndamukong Suh.
Miami signed the All-Pro defensive tackle and top prize in this year’s free agent crop to a $114 million, six-year contract. It made Suh the highest-paid defensive player in NFL history, surpassing J.J. Watt’s $100 million, six-year deal with Houston.
They expect him to plug the line against the run, and threaten — and sack — quarterbacks.
“I’m excited about the pressure,” Suh said, referring not to the pass rush but to the expectations that come with such a contract. “I don’t necessarily look at it as pressure. I look at it as something I’m built for.
“This is the ultimate team sport. There’s no way I can do it by myself. I want to be a cornerstone. At the same time our quarterback is going to be a cornerstone, Ryan Tannehill, who I have a lot of respect for: No. 1 because he has taken my hits.”
They played each other last season, a 20-16 Detroit victory.
Suh, the second overall pick in 2010, had 36 sacks in five seasons in Detroit, including 8½ in 2014. His presence should boost the performances of ends Cameron Wake and Olivier Vernon, who have combined for 38 sacks in the past two seasons.
“To get a player of Ndamukong’s stature says a lot about our organization,” director of football operations Mike Tannenbaum said. “The fact he chose us speaks volumes about our organization, our chance to win and the foundation that has been laid here.”
Miami also released veteran defensive tackle Randy Starks.
While Suh was leaving the NFC North, one of the prime offensive tackles on the market was staying there.
Green Bay re-signed right tackle Bryan Bulaga, ensuring that the NFL’s highest-scoring team will keep its entire offense intact for 2015. The deal is believed to be for five years and $34 million, with an $8 million signing bonus.
Days before Bulaga came back, the Packers re-signed receiver Randall Cobb.
Some second-tier quarterbacks were on the move Wednesday.
The Jets acquired Ryan Fitzpatrick from Houston, and he was replaced there by Brian Hoyer.
Fitzpatrick, 32, is expected to push Geno Smith for the starting job with New York. He reunites with Chan Gailey, who coached Fitzpatrick in Buffalo and is the Jets’ new offensive coordinator.
Hoyer, formerly of the Browns, will compete with Ryan Mallett with the Texans. Mallett was re-signed earlier this week.
“When you look at the offensive side of the ball — Arian Foster, (DeAndre) Hopkins — those types of guys, the offensive line, I’m excited to get a chance to be a part of this,” Hoyer said.
The Jets also signed G James Carpenter, who won a Super Bowl with Seattle.
There was one retirement, by cornerback Cortland Finnegan, which was expected — as opposed to Tuesday’s retirements of three players in their primes: Patrick Willis, Jake Locker and Jason Worilds.
In other moves Wednesday:
—Chicago agreed to terms with three-time Pro Bowl safety Antrel Rolle on a three-year deal, and LB Pernell McPhee on a five-year contract.
Rolle, a 10-year veteran, has 26 interceptions with the Arizona Cardinals and New York Giants.
McPhee played behind Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dumervil in Baltimore and had 7 1/2 sacks last season.
“I wanted to come and be a part of bringing that tradition back,” McPhee said of the Monsters of the Midway, who haven’t been too monstrous of late. “You now, a hard-nosed playing defense, play with violence, play with an attitude, play with a swag. Just go out there and dominant the game.”
—Kansas City and offensive guard Paul Fanaika have agreed to terms on a three-year deal, a person familiar with the negotiations told The Associated Press.
The person spoke on condition of anonymity Wednesday night because the Chiefs have not announced the deal. Fanaika still must pass a physical for it to be complete. Fanaika was a seventh-round draft pick of the Eagles in 2009, when Chiefs coach Andy Reid was in charge. He came into his own in Arizona, starting all 30 games he played in over the past two seasons.
—Cincinnati refortified its offensive line be re-signing G Clint Boling and OT Eric Winston, the president of the players’ union.
—Tampa Bay released DE Michael Johnson, an expensive free agent the Bucs added last year, and tackle Anthony Collins. They also agreed to a four-year, $20.5 million deal with linebacker Bruce Carter.
—St. Louis traded with Houston for backup QB Case Keenum and also re-signed TE Lance Kendricks.
—Minnesota re-signed DT Tom Johnson, who had 6 1-2 sacks in 2014, and added QB Shaun Hill to back up Teddy Bridgewater.
—New England added to its receiving group by signing Brandon Gibson and Kevin Dorsey and re-signing Brian Tyms.
—Oakland bulked up its defense with DT Dan Williams and LB Curtis Lofton.
—Philadelphia added CB Walter Thurmond III on a one-year contract.
—Tennessee agreed to terms with WR Harry Douglas and signed S Da’Norris Searcy.
—Washington signed defensive lineman Stephen Paea.