Ndamukong Suh is going to cost the Detroit Lions a ton of money this year. He’s not tradeable, even if they were silly enough to want to move him, his cap number is too high for anyone to take on at over 22 million dollars.
Suh, Matt Stafford and Calvin Johnson take up around forty percent of the Detroit Lions total salary cap. Whether or not anyone is worth that amount money is a different debate. Suh and Johnson are among the best in the game at their positions, two of the most feared players in the NFL. Their production is in line with the salaries they receive, though obviously Suh’s is inflated this year. This is fairly typical for a top five draft pick, and restructuring these contracts in their last year is typical and necessary. The odd thing is having this high a cap number for Suh’s position of defensive tackle. Its usually a quarterback, running back, defensive end or left tackle that receive the gaudy numbers. In one sense, it speaks to the tremendous talent and impact of Suh, on the other hand though, it leaves the Lions with less flexibility at other key positions to spend the extra cash on a more typically coveted position.
There has been a lot of speculation that the Lions would have to move on from one of their big three salaries. Whether or not success is realistic with this much money committed to these three has stirred as much debate as anything offseason issue Detroit has. Suh would only be hurting his reputation as the team player he claims to be by not reworking his contract. He knows as well as anybody that the Lions need to redistribute the cash around the roster for them to have any hope of putting a team together that can compete for a playoff spot. He no longer has an agent, and that may slow the process. He seems destined to sign with Jay-Z, becoming the rappers first major NFL client. Assuming Suh wants to remain in Detroit, they’ll need to wrap all of this up before the official start of the NFL year, but they did get under the cap be releasing Nate Burleson and Louis Delmas next week, so its not exactly time to slip into panic mode.
Suh is the best at what he does. Johnson is the best at what he does. Stafford is not, but is paid as such and he’ll have to make major steps this season to prove that he can be. If the Lions are to be successful, Stafford needs to improve on every level and show a level of consistency that has not yet reached. All the talent he has will get you the contract that Stafford has. Earning that contract is the next step, and its time for him to do that now. Suh has earned his extension and justified his status and the Lions and Suh will sort this out. Taking care of this issue will go a long to deciding the Lions future moves. If he doesn’t want to remain in Detroit, he won’t budge, and that is certainly a possibility, but Suh has expressed publicly a desire to remain in the motor city, so, I would expect by the time its all said and done that his cap number will likely be cut in half for 2014. The debate then can shift to whether or not Stafford is worth it. The window will start to close on Johnson, so the time is now.