I wrote earlier today that the Buccaneers and Gerald McCoy were making progress towards an in-season extension, based on a report from Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports. In that same piece, La Canfora writes that Ndamukong Suh, who was taken one pick above McCoy in the 2010 draft, appears headed to the open market.
This does not come as much of a surprise. A great deal of ink has been devoted to Suh’s contract situation this offseason, and our Luke Adams wrote back in July that the Lions were tabling extension talks until after the 2014 campaign. According to La Canfora, that plan has not changed, as there have been no talks since before training camp began, and Suh’s demands at that time were quite steep.
Suh has performed well during the first several weeks of the regular season, and the Lions continue to publicly express optimism that they will be able to retain their star defensive lineman. However, as La Canfora observes, “If Suh plays well and stays healthy his price only goes up. And with so few young, dominant players ever hitting the market before their second contracts, Suh’s agents would have a strong sense of his market by the NFL Scouting Combine in February.”
Furthermore, the Lions, unlike the Buccaneers, have several enormous contracts on the books (Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson) and have been right near the salary cap ceiling in recent seasons. Since the franchise tag for Suh in 2015 would cost Detroit a cap hit of about $27MM, there is no way the team will go that route.
So it looks as if Suh will be playing his last games for the Lions this season. He signed with CAA Sports in March, and, as La Canfora points out, “the last time CAA had a top pick play out his rookie contract — former first-overall Mario Williams — he ended up leaving the Texans for a record-setting deal in Buffalo. One would expect Suh to be able to do the same.”