MIAMI (AP) — On the first day of free agency, linebacker Karlos Dansby flew to South Florida and decided to stay.
Dansby agreed to a $43 million, five-year deal with the Miami Dolphins on Friday, a person familiar with the negotiations said.
The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the Dolphins didn't announce an agreement. The contract includes $22 million guaranteed and will pay Dansby $27 million over the next three years.
The deal was part of a big one-day shakeup in the Dolphins' defense. Miami terminated the contracts of disgruntled outside linebacker Joey Porter, inside linebacker Akin Ayodele and free safety Gibril Wilson.
One of the big prizes on this year's market, Dansby has started since his rookie season in 2004 with Arizona. He made one of the most memorable plays in this year's playoffs, returning Aaron Rodgers' fumble 17 yards for a touchdown to give the Cardinals a 51-45 overtime victory over the Green Bay Packers.
As Friday's moves made clear, the Bill Parcells regime is eager to improve a defense that last year gave up a franchise-record 140 points in the fourth quarter, most in the NFL. In the final three games, desperate to stay in the playoff race, the Dolphins fell behind 24-6, 27-0 and 27-10.
Miami fired defensive coordinator Paul Pasqualoni in January and replaced him with Mike Nolan.
Porter, a four-time Pro Bowler chosen in January to the NFL's All-Decade team, was released last month but reverted to the Miami roster because of a salary cap technicality. He had campaigned to be released while complaining about his reduced role last season and his relationship with coach Tony Sparano.
Wilson was a flop in his only season with the Dolphins. He received $8 million guaranteed when he signed a year ago.
Ayodele was a two-year starter at inside linebacker, but Dansby offers more big-play ability. The former Cardinals star has 25½ career sacks, 10 interceptions, 12 fumbles forced and nine fumbles recovered. Dansby can stop the run, rush the quarterback and drop into coverage, and in Miami he'll play in the same 3-4 scheme the Cardinals use.