Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh was a behavioral problem in the locker room, the NFL Network’s Heath Evans tells 105.1 Detroit (audio link). Evans claims several Lions players told him Suh was uncoachable and disrespectful towards the coaching staff. “The consistent message that came out of there is that Suh was uncontrollable and that he would constantly do things to kind of show his power over Jim Schwartz, whether it was team meetings, showing up late, or whatever it may be.” The Lions have disputed the assertions, releasing a statement by Schwartz, who says “Ndamukong Suh was not late for any team meeting, practice or team travel in any of our four years together with the Lions.”
This news is relevant as Suh and the Lions prepare to engage in extension discussions. Suh, who recently fired his agent, is set to count an enormous $22.4MM against the cap in 2014, so the Lions have an obvious need to restructure his contract. Suh, who is under contract for two more seasons, already restructured once last year, allowing the Lions to save about $8MM. If an extension cannot be worked out, the franchise tag would not seem to be an option, as it would cost the Lions nearly $27MM.
The longer the contract talks go on, the more likely it is that Suh will test the free agent market, according to Michael Rothstein of ESPN.com. The Lions would prefer any new deal to come together before free agency begins in March, in order to alleviate their cap strain. For comparison, Geno Atkins of the Bengals recently got $15MM guaranteed on a five-year contract. Suh, who rated as the second-best defensive tackle according to Pro Football Focus (subscription required), would likely command more.