The Dolphins made him change those plans.
Talking to owner Stephen Ross, members of the front office and coaching staff, as well as some players convinced him there was no need to go on a recruiting tour: The right move for him was signing with the Dolphins.
“I had a lot of things planned and places to go to after,” Williams said in a conference call with reporters Wednesday afternoon. “The level of excitement and confidence that I had from them, it was one of those things that was almost a no-brainer. It’s a great place to be for a defensive player to get after the ball, to get after the quarterback. It’s a great group of guys. Fortunately, I had to pull for some things and live some things, but at the end of the day, everything got done and I’m a Dolphin now.”
Williams even used the word “pointless” as far as even bothering to visit other teams before he signed with the Dolphins on Tuesday night.
“I think the biggest thing (about) my decision to come to Miami was the coaching staff; to learn the faces there, being able to meet the new guys, the new coaching members and everything,” Williams said. “I was able to have a lot of information on a lot of our guys that are there from other players who played underneath certain coaches and things. But the direction that the organization wants to go in from top to bottom was huge.
“Meeting with the owner, it was really shocking to me. … I can say I’ve never, ever been in the room with an NFL owner and it was like talking to somebody who is 30 years old. He was cool to interview with. I want to say he’s 75? 65, 75? I know it was something like that. But to be part of something with someone who has so much enthusiasm, so much energy and passion towards, the team and then it trickles straight down to the last guy, the outlook is definitely determined as far as every coach that’s there, every player. Everybody knows where they’re going and what direction we want to take it. So that was huge in having a mind-set that we are definitely in this to win.”
Williams joins the Dolphins after spending the past three seasons with the Buffalo Bills.
In 10 seasons after the Houston Texans made him the first overall pick in the 2006 NFL draft, Williams recorded 96 sacks and reached double digits five times.
After recording 38 sacks from 2012-14, Williams had five sacks last season with the Bills. Regardless of stats, Williams said he always feels like he has something to prove.
“Every day I wake up I feel like I have something to prove,” he said. “You have bumpy roads. We all do. There’s nobody that can go out there and have a smooth path that is perfect. But I can honestly say that road is still going. We haven’t hit the end in the road and that’s what gives me so much excitement. It’s beyond believing. I can’t wait. It’s almost like one of those things where the first time you came to college, the first time you played NFL football, it is that same feeling.
“I don’t even look at age or whatever. I actually think I’m young. And I feel that way and I know as far as my body, every year, I’m stronger and faster than I was. What comes along with playing in the league for this amount of years is the knowledge. It’s almost unfair to a certain extent whenever somebody has the mental (understanding) of what’s going on and understands those things but still has the same attributes that they did before.”
Williams, who turned 31 on Jan. 31, joins a Dolphins defensive line that includes Pro Bowl regulars
Suh and Mitchell were among the players with whom Williams had conversations before signing with the Dolphins.
“I got to touch base with Suh for a second,” Williams said. “Things were moving pretty quick and fast. As far as timing, it seemed like it blew by. But getting to understand how things are done in Miami, I feel the mind-set and where we want to go, what we’re planning on doing. Obviously, I felt like I could be a big part of that. (Mitchell) was actually coming back from a trip, and I was fortunate enough to catch up with him on the phone. Collectively, we’re all in and just ready to get after it.”
After playing in a 3-4 system in Buffalo last year, Williams is going back to a predominantly 4-3 scheme in Miami.
He said the particular alignment wasn’t as significant to him as how he would be utilized, and that’s another thing that has him excited about joining the Dolphins. “To me I think they are both beneficial in their own ways; it’s just all about utilization,” Williams said. “And I know (new Dolphins defensive coordinator Vance Joseph) and his mind-set as that coordinator. It’s going to be … the dogs are going to hunt. Guys who get after the quarterback are going to get after the quarterback.
“I think the biggest thing in talking to the Dolphins has been they kind of give you confidence because they bring the excitement and a level of energy that I feel like I’ve never had before. When I look at being a Dolphin and knowing that wherever somebody is from, it’s going to be shown who Mario Williams is. There’s nothing better than knowing, now, that I’m a Dolphin and how things are going to play out and (how I will) be used in the system… with my fellow teammates that everything is going to be fine. It’s going to be right back to where it needs to be.”