Defensive end Mario Williams signed a $16 million, two-year contract Tuesday with the Miami Dolphins, who now have an abundance of Pro Bowl pass rushers — for the moment, at least.
Williams reached the agreement a week after being released by the Buffalo Bills. The Dolphins sought reinforcement at end because they may lose defensive end Olivier Vernon in free agency, and the status of four-time Pro Bowl end Cameron Wake is in doubt, too.
Miami’s defensive front also includes four-time Pro Bowl tackle Ndamukong Suh.
Last week Miami placed a $12.734 million transition tag on Vernon, allowing him to negotiate with other teams. He’s widely expected to sign elsewhere, and the Dolphins are now unlikely to match the offer, although they have the right of first refusal.
Wake might be allowed to depart, too. He’s 34 and coming off a torn Achilles tendon, and the Dolphins have been negotiating in vain to reduce his $9.8 million salary cap hit.
The pass rush could use an upgrade — Miami tied for 25th in the NFL with 31 sacks last season.
Changes up front are part of a revamping of the defense under new coach Adam Gase. Miami also swung a trade this week to acquire cornerback Byron Maxwell and linebacker Kiko Alonso from the Eagles for a draft choice, pending their physicals.
Williams, 31, has 96 sacks, but had only five last season under new Bills coach Rex Ryan. At times, Williams complained about his role and seemed disinterested.
Selected No. 1 overall in the 2006 draft, Williams spent his first six seasons in Houston. He has made the Pro Bowl four times, most recently in 2014, when he had 14 sacks.
Williams signed after visiting Miami last weekend, and his signing will likely be applauded by Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill. Williams has 13 sacks versus Miami, more than against any other team, and that include eight sacks of Tannehill in the past four years.