Ndamukong Suh‘s presence on the Lions’ roster comes with a hefty price tag of $22.4MM, which gives the team almost no flexibility to do anything else in free agency, writes Chris McCosky of the Detroit News. In fact, he notes that even with the extra $11.5MM the team saved by releasing Louis Delmas and Nate Burleson, the Lions do not have enough cap space to sign all of the team’s prospective draft picks this May.
This is a huge problem for the Lions, but it is not unprecedented for the team. This current roster was built with cornerstone draft picks from the old CBA. With the team holding high draft choices, their top picks were able to negotiate big money contracts that could cripple an organization’s cap flexibility. The Lions were able to proceed smoothly in negotiating Calvin Johnson‘s contract extension, which made him the highest paid receiver in football, deservingly so. Then when Matthew Stafford approached the end of his rookie deal, his extension was negotiated in a similar manner.
Suh is the third piece to the puzzle, and McCosky writes that Lions president Tom Lewand would like to come to an agreement on another long-term contract to keep a top player in the mix for the long haul. Of course, Suh has just recently fired his agent, instead electing to join Jay-Z and Roc Nation Sports. Publicly, it is still unknown who will be negotiating his contract. Roc Nation has only one agent certified to negotiate a contract, and that agent’s only client is the Jets’ quarterback Geno Smith. Victor Cruz‘ brand is represented by Roc Nation, but his contract is handled by veteran agent Tom Condon.
McCoskey notes that Suh holds all the cards in this negotiation, because his mammoth extension is inevitable at this point. He will be the most highly paid defensive tackle in football. It is up to him whether or not he will work with the Lions and get the deal hammered out in the coming weeks, allowing the team to use the extra cap space cleared up this season to fill holes elsewhere on the roster and put together a team that can return to the playoffs in 2014.