TAMPA – Ndamukong Suh’s free-agent departure from the Detroit Lions shouldn’t be surprising to most.
Two years ago, the word on the street was that Suh wanted out of Motown as soon as he was eligible to become an unrestricted free agent.
Hence, the news on Sunday that Suh, the second overall pick in 2010, has agreed to a new six-year, $114 million ($60 million guaranteed) mega deal with the Miami Dolphins is finally proof positive that the rumblings were true.
NFL free agents can officially start signing deals with teams on Tuesday and it wasn’t just a cash decision that made Suh take his talents to South Beach.
The final reported numbers of Suh’s record-breaking deal tell you that Suh wasn’t serious about the Lions – at all. The Dolphins reportedly offered $60 million guaranteed and the Lions offered $58 million guaranteed.
That’s not that much of a difference in money, especially to make one leave a winning team for another team that didn’t even make the playoffs last season.
In addition, according to ESPN.com, the Lions offer to Suh was $17 million per year with $58 million guaranteed – a deal that would have still made Suh the highest-paid defensive player in the NFL.
In 2014, the Houston Texans’ J.J. Watt got a six-year, $100 million pact with $51.8 million of guaranteed cheese.
It’s been clear for some time that Suh, a Pro Bowl defensive tackle who spent his first five stellar seasons in the NFL with the Lions, simply didn’t want to stay in Motown at any price.
A year ago the Lions reportedly offered Suh a contract that would have made him the highest-paid player ever at his position.
He turned that down.
Suh, 28, didn’t have an agent for a while; when he finally did get one, Suh didn’t seem as if he really wanted to negotiate in good faith with the Lions.
Despite hearing the rumors that Suh wanted out and dead-end contract talks, the Lions’ front office put on a happy face and both fooled themselves and fans about where this was headed.
For more than a year the Lions’ brass was saying that they fully expected to keep Suh and come to terms on a long-term deal.
Not only did it not happen, when you look at what really transpired, it’s fair to believe the Lions never had an honest shot of retaining a tremendously talented defensive player for the ages.
Apparently, or so it seemed, Suh was buying into his coach Jim Caldwell and his teammates. Yet despite that, it’s overtly apparent that he wasn’t so excited about the Lions’ 11 wins in 2014 or what the organization was building.
The Lions shouldn’t have waited this long on Suh and been left holding a wet paper bag.
That’s where the Lions blew it.
Maybe, just maybe, they could have still gotten something for him if they were honestly open to trading Suh after he turned down serious dollars on a new deal.
Maybe the Lions should have realized at that point that it wasn’t going to happen and they need to get something for such a talented player.
Instead, Suh walks and they get a third round compensatory pick. Big deal.
The Lions were right when they didn’t franchise tag Suh. It simply made no sense, especially if the organization was serious about fielding a team that had a shot to win a Super Bowl.
After all, that’s the goal. The Lions have won just one playoff game since 1957 and are one of only four teams never to make it to the Super Bowl (the other three teams are all expansion teams).
The Lions also get blame for Suh’s chubby cap number of $22.4 million for 2014 because of contract restructures.
Suh’s franchise tag number for this season would have been a whopping $26,870,000. Add another $9.7 million in “dead money” that’s already been paid out also on the team’s cap and it would have meant $36.6 million would have counted against the NFL projected $143 million cap for 2015. Hence, roughly 25% of the cap used on ONE player – Suh.
For sure, some fans will scream to the high heavens. They will say the organization was dumb to let Suh go. And while the Lions made plenty of mistakes here and rightfully deserve the majority of the blame they’ll be receiving, fans need to accept the reality of the situation.
The bottom line remains that Suh wanted out.
That’s why he’s headed to Miami.