11:57am: Lions president Tom Lewand said in an interview today, “I think there’s a very, very good chance that we can get something done with [Suh] in the next few weeks,” writes Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press. Lewand added that affording Suh and fitting his lucrative contract under the salary cap will not be an issue. According to Birkett, Lewand’s statements are the strongest indication yet that Suh will return to Detroit.
11:19am: The Lions are favored to re-sign Ndamukong Suh, writes ESPN’s Chris Mortensen. The fate of the star defensive tackle, who is eligible for free agency this year, has dominated headlines for much of 2014 and will continue to be a prominent storyline until he signs his next contract.
Suh is regarded as perhaps the second-best defensive lineman in the league, taking a backseat to only Houston’s J.J. Watt, who received 13 MVP votes for his outstanding play in 2014. As such, Suh is expected to command a contract similar to the $100MM deal that Watt signed last year, and Mortensen’s sources believe Detroit will be the team to give him that money.
Of course, the salary cap ramifications of such a deal represent the biggest concern for Detroit, who would apparently be willing to go so far as to part with Calvin Johnson to create enough cap space to re-sign Suh. However, the Lions believe they can manage to keep both Suh and Johnson on the roster.
For his part, Johnson may have expressed a willingness to rework his own deal if it would allow his team to retain Suh, writes Kyle Meinke of MLive.com. “I’ll do whatever I got to do,” Johnson said. It is unclear if that statement means that Johnson is willing to restructure his contract or if he simply meant that he would be aggressive in trying to convince Suh to stay in Detroit.
According to Mortensen, though, Suh may not need much convincing. Although the Lions suffered a disappointing loss in the first round of this year’s playoffs, they showed the ability to contend for a championship, and a Suh return would allow them to return as many as 18 starters. All of that has led Suh to express his desire to continue his career where it started.