Ndamukong Suh

Bruce Arians Talks Buccaneers’ Offseason Priorities

While impending free agent quarterback Jameis Winston may be stealing headlines, Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians is more focused on retaining his team’s top defenders.

“Oh, yeah. To me, it’s the whole defense,” Arians told ESPN’s Jenna Laine. “You can’t get ’em all, but … those young guys grew. We can’t let that go. I don’t care who’s my quarterback. We’ve gotta have a defense.”

Outside linebacker Shaquil Barrett is the most notable defender hitting free agency, and he should be in line for a lucrative payday after compiling an NFL-high 19.5 sacks last season. Many of Barrett’s defensive teammates are also set to hit the open market, including players Jason Pierre-PaulCarl NassibNdamukong SuhBeau Allen and Rakeem Nunez-Roches.

On the offensive side of the ball, it doesn’t sound like Arians is all that concerned about who’s under center. The head coach did admit that it’s tough to have any clarity on the quarterbacks position considering the uncertainty of free agency.

“You don’t know who’s available,” Arians said. “You just sit there and wait to see, is there someone available. If not, is this a better option. That’s the problem. You get about two days to decide in the legal tampering period.”

One of the team’s options will naturally be Winston, who spent the first five seasons of his career in Tampa Bay. Winston set career-highs in passing yards (5,109) and touchdowns (33) in 2019, but he also set a career-high (and led the NFL) with 30 interceptions.

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NFC South Notes: JPP, Panthers, Falcons

Bruce Arians has understandably asserted Shaquil Barrett‘s all-time contract year will keep him with the Buccaneers but added the team wants to keep its other high-profile front-seven starters as well. Both Jason Pierre-Paul and Ndamukong Suh‘s contracts are up, but Arians said keeping both will be a top priority (Twitter link via Scott Smith of Buccaneers.com). The veteran HC may have indicated JPP resides slightly higher on the priority list as well, per Greg Auman of The Athletic (on Twitter). Pierre-Paul returned from another scary injury this season and has registered 8.5 sacks in 10 games, giving him 21 in two Bucs seasons. The Bucs hold a great deal of cap space, at $88.9MM, but will likely need to devote a chunk of that amount to Jameis Winston.

Here is the latest from the AFC South:

  • If Greg Olsen opts to put off his broadcasting career for another year, he will likely need to relocate. The veteran tight end indicated recently he did not want to take part in a potential Panthers rebuild. While the franchise has not committed to charting that path, Joe Person of The Athletic expects Olsen to be elsewhere in 2020. “I just think sometimes the writing’s on the wall,” Olsen said, via Joe Person of The Athletic (subscription required). “There hasn’t been anything officially. But I wanted to make sure if that was my last time that I made sure I told the people that I needed to how much they meant on my career.” One year (at a $6.6MM base salary) remains on the 34-year-old tight end’s contract. Carolina would save $8.1MM by cutting Olsen, its top tight end for the past nine years.
  • Moving to a younger NFC South tight end, Austin Hooper acknowledged the Falcons have not yet made him an offer to stay, per D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (Twitter link). Hooper, however, would like to return, and Thomas Dimitroff appeared to indicate the breakout tight end will be a priority (Twitter link via Ledbetter). We heard this earlier this season as well.
  • A Hooper return may lead De’Vondre Campbell elsewhere. The Falcons already gave a top-market contract to Deion Jones and are up against the salary cap. While noting he wants to stay in Atlanta, the Falcons’ top 2019 tackler acknowledged (via ESPN.com’s Vaughn McClure) he may need to change teams. Although the Falcons will consider re-signing Campbell and Vic Beasley, Dimitroff did not commit to either’s return (via McClure, on Twitter).
  • Despite Breshad Perriman‘s end-of-season stretch potentially raising his free agency price, the Buccaneers‘ No. 3 wideout would like to stay in this high-octane offense. Perriman signed a one-year, $4MM deal with Tampa Bay, doing so after backing out of a Cleveland commitment following the Odell Beckham Jr. trade. The Bucs have Mike Evans on a high-end deal and will see Chris Godwin enter a contract year in 2020, perhaps pushing Perriman to another team.
  • A player the Panthers do not want on another team: James Bradberry. Carolina’s top cornerback met with GM Marty Hurney, and David Newton of ESPN.com notes the fourth-year corner received a “be patient” message from this summit. The Panthers want Bradberry back, Newton adds, but the former Round 2 pick would obviously prefer an upper-echelon deal to stay.

Bruce Arians On Gerald McCoy-For-Ndamukong Suh Switch

Acting swiftly after their long-rumored Gerald McCoy separation, the Buccaneers now have Ndamukong Suh set to anchor their line. Suh and McCoy’s careers have been linked together since the former was the 2010 No. 2 overall pick and the latter going one spot later.

The Bucs managed to bring in Suh for $9.25MM. McCoy was set to earn $13MM this season on his seven-year Bucs contract. Bruce Arians described both McCoy’s financial situation and his place in Todd Bowles‘ new 3-4 defense as not being an optimal fit.

It just wasn’t a fit,” Arians said during an ESPN interview (via JoeBucsFan.com). “Whether it was financial, whatever, on the field, you know, it just didn’t fit. I’ve been through this a number of times with guys and great players and it just comes a time when they have to separate the organization. You go back to Franco Harris not being a Steeler; this has happened for a long, long time.”

McCoy’s 123 career Bucs games only sit 13th in franchise history, with multiple Super Bowl XXXVII icons spending much more time with the franchise. But he entered this offseason as Tampa Bay’s longest-tenured active defender. Despite McCoy and Suh entering the league together, Suh is more than a year older. He is going into his age-32 season, while McCoy will be 31 throughout the 2019 campaign.

Placing a great deal of emphasis on Suh’s attendance track record (two missed games in nine seasons, and those were due to a 2011 suspension), Arians identified the former Lions, Dolphins and Rams defensive tackle as being a superior fit for the team’s new defense.

Consistency. He never misses a game, very seldom ever misses a practice,” Arians said of Suh. “Plays extremely hard the way I like to play. He fits our three-man scheme a lot better in terms of his versatility up and down the front.”

Suh played 1,058 snaps last season, while McCoy was on the field for 731. However, McCoy (54.5 career sacks) played in 15 games from 2015-17 and has not missed more than three in a season since 2011. Suh (56 career sacks) played 329 snaps in a nose tackle role in the Rams’ 3-4 defense last season, though. The Bucs had deployed a 4-3 scheme throughout McCoy’s tenure. McCoy has visited the Browns, Ravens and Panthers and is believed to be on the verge of choosing his next team.

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Buccaneers Sign Ndamukong Suh

May’s biggest free agent is officially off the board. On Thursday, the Buccaneers announced the signing of defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh. Suh will receive a one-year deal worth $9.25MM with incentives that can push it to $10MM, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets.

Suh’s arrival will give the Bucs a major stopper to replace six-time Pro Bowler Gerald McCoy, who was released on Monday. In essence, the Bucs swapped McCoy’s $13MM salary for Suh and defensive end Shaquil Barrett, who will earn a combined $13MM in 2019. With all due respect to McCoy, that’s a pretty outstanding value for Tampa.

Suh, 32, has five Pro Bowl nods and two First-Team All-Pro selections on his resume. Throughout his career, Suh has been one of the very best defensive tackles in the NFL with an impressive knack for finding the quarterback from the interior.

After five years with the Lions, Suh inked a six-year, $114MM with the Dolphins, making him the highest-paid defensive player in league history. Suh continued to play at a high level, but didn’t quite live up to the mammoth contract. Midway through, the Dolphins released him, paving the way for Suh to latch on with the Rams in 2018.

In L.A., Suh tallied 4.5 sacks and 59 tackles and graded out as the No. 20 ranked interior defender in the NFL. Those numbers aren’t in line with his best work, but it’s clear that the veteran still has a lot to offer for the Bucs.

Suh would have made sense for clubs like the Seahawks, Cowboys, Broncos, and Vikings, but the Bucs jumped at the opportunity to replace McCoy with the equally accomplished defender. Meanwhile, the deal brings Suh back to Florida, a no-income tax state.

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Community Tailgate: Where Will Ndamukong Suh Sign?

We recently graded defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh as the best free agent remaining on the market, but the only reports we have heard on him this year have concerned teams who are not interested in his services rather than teams who are.

For instance, despite a positive meeting with Suh last year, the Titans are not expected to consider signing the three-time First Team All-Pro this year. And although Suh enjoyed a strong season with the Rams in 2018, Los Angeles is not expected to renew the partnership.

Rumor has it that Suh’s asking price is the major deterrent for clubs who may otherwise be interested in his services. As the No. 2 overall pick of the 2010 draft, when the old CBA was in effect, Suh landed a massive rookie contract from the Lions that included $40MM in guaranteed money, and his six-year, $114MM free agent deal with the Dolphins ratcheted him further up the career earnings leaderboard.

Even Suh’s one-year contract with the Rams paid him $14MM, so he has never had to “settle” for less than an eight-figure annual income. The 32-year-old is surely content to wait out the market until a team becomes more willing to meet his asking price due to injury or poor performance, so it may be awhile before this situation resolves itself.

We tabbed the Seahawks, Cowboys, Broncos, and Vikings as potential fits, and Minnesota would perhaps be the most likely destination if the club had more cap space. But unless the Vikes make several significant moves to free up some room, they will not likely be able to give Suh anywhere close to the money he wants.

Whoever does get the Nebraska product will add a player who will instantly upgrade the D-line. Suh may not be the same player he once was, but he showed in 2018 that he still has plenty to offer, and the only two games he has missed in his nine-year career were due to suspension rather than injury.

So where do you think Suh will ply his trade in 2019? Let us know in the comments, and feel free to offer a guess as to the contract he might get.

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Titans Not Interested In Ndamukong Suh

Although the Titans met with Ndamukong Suh when he was a free agent at this time a year ago, they’re not expected to consider signing the defensive tackle this offseason, according to Paul Kuharsky of PaulKuharsky.com.

Tennessee has added both Jeffery Simmons (first-round draft choice) and Brent Urban (free agent) to its defensive line in recent weeks, but Simmons may not play at all during his rookie campaign while recovering from a torn ACL, and Urban isn’t exactly a game-changing player. Defensive tackle Jurrell Casey led the Titans’ defensive line by ranking 14th in Pro Football Focus‘ positional grades, but no other Tennessee interior defender finished inside the top-45. As a unit, the Titans front four ranked just 22nd in adjusted sack rate and 28th in adjusted line yards, per Football Outsiders.

Suh, entering his age-32 campaign, appeared in all 16 games for the Rams a season ago after inking a one-year, $14MM pact with the Rams. He posted 4.5 sacks and 48 pressures during the regular season, and ramped up his production once Los Angeles began its postseason run, managing 1.5 more sacks and nine additional pressures in the Rams’ three playoff games. Suh is always available, as the only two games he’s missed in his nine-year career were the result of suspension, not injury.

Reports have indicated Suh’s asking price could be an issue, as Albert Breer of TheMMQB.com noted earlier this year that Suh has never played on a contact averaging less than $10MM per season. While that may be the case, the Titans currently have more than $30MM in available cap space, so they could afford Suh if they so chose.

Earlier this evening, PFR ranked Suh as the best available defensive free agent remaining on the board.

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Extra Points: Suh, OT, Tebow, XFL

As could be expected based on his stature in the league throughout the 2010s, Ndamukong Suh has placed a high value on his services. The defensive tackle still resides in free agency largely because of his asking price, Albert Breer of SI.com notes. Because he entered the NFL under the previous CBA, which awarded first-round picks far more lucrative contracts, Suh has never played for less than $10MM in a season. He signed a one-year, $14MM deal with the Rams. After Suh’s strong playoff performance helped the Rams to Super Bowl LIII, the team is nevertheless not expected to bring him back. Suh has not been connected closely to any team this offseason, but the Titans have emerged as a possible suitor. As of 3pm Tuesday, teams can sign free agents without the transactions being tied to 2020 compensatory picks. That will accelerate the action.

Here is the latest from the American professional football landscape:

  • The NFL may be moving closer to a system that would allow both teams to have a possession in overtime. The Chiefs’ March proposal to guarantee both teams an OT possession has gained support among owners, Cowboys executive VP Stephen Jones said (via Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk). “I certainly watched every play of that Kansas City-New England game, and you kind of would have liked to have seen what would have happened if Kansas City got another shot at it, and then how the thing would have ended up,” Jones said. “It’s certainly something that had some traction there in the room, and certainly saw some people who were very interested in it.” Although this may come to pass, both Jones and Chiefs chairman Clark Hunt said the rule tweak likely would only apply to playoff games — when the overtime clock does not factor into the game. The owners will discuss this further at their latest round of meetings — set for May 20-22 in Florida.
  • Despite the Alliance of American Football being the latest football league to fail, the XFL is barreling forward. XFL 2.0 has reached agreements with multiple networks to have each of its games aired each week. The league will begin play Feb. 8, 2020 — six days after a Super Bowl, as the AAF did this year — have 10 regular-season games and two playoff rounds. Its championship matchup is set for April 26. ABC, Fox and ESPN will televise XFL games — two apiece on Saturdays and Sundays. While this is a similar schedule to the AAF’s, the the 2019 league’s games appeared mostly on TNT and the NFL Network. It’s safe to say the XFL stands to have a greater reach, given its TV partnerships. Here is the full schedule.
  • The XFL reached out to Tim Tebow about reconsidering his stance regarding a football return. Commissioner Oliver Luck said (via SI.com’s Dan Greene) he ran into the former Broncos starter at the NCAA national championship game in January but that Tebow reaffirmed his stance to continue with baseball. He turned down the AAF this year as well. The 31-year-old quarterback-turned-outfielder, though, has struggled in 2019 after showing previous promise in the Mets farm system. After slashing .273/.336/.399 with six home runs in Double-A last season, Tebow has not adjusted to Triple-A pitching. He is hitting .130 in 77 at-bats this season.

Compensatory Pick Formula Ends Today

Starting at 4pm ET/3pm CT, any unrestricted free agent that signs with a new team will not count towards the 2020 compensatory draft pick formula, as Field Yates of ESPN.com tweets. This should quickly accelerate the market for several free agents of note, including:

Compensatory picks are given to teams that lose a greater number of compensatory free agents (or, a greater quality of free agents) than they acquire. The complicated formula that dictates how the picks are dispersed is not disclosed to the public, but teams are wary of signing even lower impact UFAs while it is in effect.

But, when the formula is turned off, veteran free agents should start flying off of the board.

Extra Points: Elliott, Jets, Titans, Suh, Texans

Let’s check out some notes from around the NFL as we wrap up the weekend:

  • Could the Cowboys be preparing for a future without Ezekiel Elliott? Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk thinks that could be the case, as the writer believes the team could be taking “the DeMarco Murray approach” of running their star back into the ground before moving on. Florio cites a recent quote from COO Stephen Jones, who compared fourth-round running back Tony Pollard to Saints star Alvin Kamara.
  • Sam Darnold and Trevor Siemian are slotted in atop the Jets quarterbacks depth chart, but there will be some competition behind the duo. As ESPN’s Rich Cimini writes, the organization is likely to only carry four quarterbacks to training camp, meaning one of Luke Falk, Davis Webb, or Brandon Silvers will likely be without a job. Cimini notes that head coach Adam Gase likes Falk’s potential, explaining why the Jets claimed him off waivers earlier this week.
  • Would the Titans consider bringing in veteran defensive lineman Ndamukong Suh? Jim Wyatt of TitansOnline.com says he has not “heard a lot of internal buzz about this.” Suh did visit with the Titans last offseason before he landed with the Rams, and Wyatt notes that the veteran enjoyed his visit with Tennessee. Plus, Suh has a relationship with Titans defensive-line coach Terrell Williams and lineman Cameron Wake, so perhaps a deal isn’t all that unrealistic.
  • Safety Jahleel Addae‘s one-year deal with the Texans is worth $1.105MM, according to Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle (via Twitter). The deal includes an $805K base salary, $150K signing bonus, and up to an $150K roster bonus. Addae, 29, was released by the Chargers just prior to the start of free agency after spending six years with the club.

Rams Unlikely To Re-Sign Ndamukong Suh

The Rams are unlikely to re-sign Ndamukong Suh, GM Les Snead says (via ESPN.com’s Lindsey Thiry). Bringing the defensive tackle back is “pretty much guaranteed to be off the table” due to “budgetary constraints,” which means that one of the best remaining free agents will be changing teams in 2019. 

The Rams have limited cap space to work with after re-signing outside linebacker Dante Fowler and adding safety Eric Weddle, quarterback Blake Bortles, and linebacker Clay Matthews. Last year, the Rams gave Suh a one-year, $14MM deal, and he could command similar money on the open market.

The Rams also have future extensions to keep in mind. They want to keep cornerback Marcus Peters in L.A. for the long haul and, eventually, they’ll want to sit down with quarterback Jared Goff to discuss a new contract.

While Suh is still an imposing presence, he didn’t look like his old self in 2018. The five-time Pro Bowler finished out with 4.5 sacks from the interior, but the Rams allowed a league-worst 5.1 yards per carry to opposing teams. On the plus side, Suh did seem to get more comfortable with his shift from playing as a 4-3 three-technique tackle to a 3-4 nose tackle as the season progressed.

There was an early-in-the down transition to that position change and I do think as the season went on he did improve,” Snead said. “And you felt more of the Ndamukong that maybe you had gotten to know over the years.”

It’s also worth noting that Suh was effective in the club’s first two playoff games against the Cowboys and Saints. And, ultimately, Suh finished out as the No. 20 ranked interior defender in the NFL last year, per Pro Football Focus. That’s not quite as strong as his placement in his prime years – Suh was ranked in PFF’s top 5 as recently as 2017 – but he’s still a productive player at the age of 32.

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