The Lions have opted to table contract negotiations with Ndamukong Suh and his representatives until after the 2014 season, according to team president Tom Lewand (Twitter link via Michael Rothstein of ESPN.com). Lewand remains optimistic that an agreement can be reached between the two sides in the offseason, per Tim Twentyman of DetroitLions.com (via Twitter), while GM Martin Mayhew says it was the team’s choice to put talks on the back burner (Twitter link).
Suh, 27, will earn a base salary of $12.55MM this season, but the prorated bonus money left on his contract increases his overall cap hit to about $22.41MM. Although an extension could’ve reduced that number a little, the Lions managed to make all their offseason moves without needing the added flexibility.
Postponing further extension discussions until after the season means Suh may have the opportunity to hit the open market, though the Lions will have a couple months between season’s end and March’s free agency date to work something out with the standout defensive tackle. According to Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press (via Twitter), Lewand didn’t rule out the possibility of the team using its franchise tag on Suh. However, that would be a pricey and impractical move — as Brian McIntyre tweets, Suh’s franchise salary would be $26.7MM. In any case, trading the star defender isn’t something the club is considering, according to Mayhew (Twitter link).
Entering his fifth NFL season, Suh has established himself as one of the league’s top defensive linemen, having earned three Pro Bowl berths and two First-Team All-Pro nods. Pro Football Focus’ advanced metrics (subscription required) have ranked the former second overall pick among the NFL’s top four defensive tackles in each of the last two seasons, primarily on the strength of his ability to rush the passer. By PFF’s count, Suh racked up 72 total quarterback pressures in 2013, well ahead of any other DT besides Gerald McCoy.
With an extension for Suh now on the docket for the offseason, the Lions will face decisions on both of their starting defensive tackles at that point. The team declined its fifth-year option on Nick Fairley for 2015, meaning he’ll also be eligible for unrestricted free agency in March.