Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

Ndamukong Suh's Contract Situation; The Kaepernick Effect

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We’re only one week into June, yet as a Lions fan, I feel like it has already been a long summer and an even longer offseason.

Perhaps its the bad taste that still remains from last years late-season collapse?

Perhaps it has to do with the Lions organization and Martin Mayhew cleaning house of the coaching staff after that collapse and the anticipation of how the next regime will fair?

Or perhaps it’s the ongoing melodrama of the Ndamukong Suh contract situation and it’s ripple down effect on the rest of the team.

Suh is entering the final season of his contract and is sending mixed signals daily. He’s been in on-again, off-again contract extension talks with the Lions, a process hampered by a protracted agent change and the death of Mr. Ford, Detroit’s principal owner.

Suh opted to avoid the team’s voluntary workout sessions earlier in the year, even though he is a returning team captain. That obviously caused some controversy and raised questions about his commitment and leadership.

When Suh finally arrived in Detroit for OTA’s, he was in great condition as many expected he would be. What everyone didn’t expect were the words that were about to come out of his mouth.

Here’s what Suh said, as relayed by Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press:

“I had an opportunity — probably a lot of you guys don’t know, I could have gone elsewhere when I was drafted. Had that decision in my hands. I chose not to take it because that’s just the way I saw it.”

Suh appears to be saying that he could have chosen to force Detroit to not select him with the No. 2 overall pick back in 2010, similar to what the Manning family did to the Chargers with Eli in 2004.

All of that drama aside, there is one major issue with relevance to Suh’s contract extension that the Lions would like resolved before the beginning of Training Camp. That issue is the signing of first-round draft pick, Eric Ebron.

The Lions can’t slide their first-round draft pick into it’s designated rookie salary slot just yet because they don’t have sufficient funds underneath the salary cap. A primary reason for that deficiency is the continued failure of Suh and the Lions to reach an agreement that should make Suh one of the richest defensive players in NFL history, at the same time providing the Lions with the necessary cap relief.

In what seems like a win-win for both sides, they are instead at a stalemate.

But it gets better.

Throw in the Kaepernick effect.

While Colin Kaepernick’s deal doesn’t make him the highest-paid quarterback in the league, it does set the market for offseason contract extensions this year for high-profile players and Suh is one of the most recognizable names in the league. If you think his agent, Jimmy Sexton, didn’t see the Kaepernick deal and think how he could use it to help gain more of an advantage for his client in their talks with Detroit, then you might underestimate Sexton’s bargaining talents. There’s a reason Suh hired him — it’s because he is widely considered one of the best in the game.

Whatever you think of Suh’s detached demeanor, it would be a huge blow for the Lions to lose him. When it’s just about football, Suh is very popular in this town and one of the most recognizable faces on the Lions roster. He’s one of the top defensive tackles in the game, and at 27 is entering his prime.

The longer this situation goes on however, the further it stretches the limits of Jim Caldwell’s new culture of team accountability. Caldwell’s reaction to Suh remains consistent with his overall coaching philosophy – trust his players’ professionalism and preparation and they, in turn, will demand more from each other in execution and deportment.

Will Ndamukong Suh get an extension done before the regular season begins?

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Tags: Colin Kaepernick Detroit Lions Eric Ebron Ndamukong Suh

  • Herman Moore

    This article is ridiculous. The Lions can easily rework a couple of other veteran contracts–Tulloch and Quin come to mind–to free up the necessary room. Suh never attends off season workouts with the team. His contract situation will have no effect on his performance of his job.

    • Nate Williams

      They could restructure or extend someone else, but it makes the most sense to work out an extension with Suh due to his contract being up but wanting to remain in Detroit.

      I agree that the situation will zero effect on his on-the-field performance.

    • Tony Fischer

      The difference is the players you mentioned don’t have outrageous contracts that handcuff the organization.

      • jack_sprat2

        Nor does Suh. His contract is in line with the other top-3 DT who was chosen in the 2010 Draft. Any handcuffs are solely the responsibility of Mayhew and Lewand. They foolishly chased “competitiveness” prematurely, apparently seduced by the team’s mirage of a record in 2011. They should have eaten the food which they had heaped upon their plate, first, before returning to the line for seconds and thirds.

        • Nate Williams

          Gerald McCoy is set to make $15 million in 2014. Suh is set to make over $20 million base pay.

          Yes, Mayhew and company are the ones that worked out the extension last year that lowered Suh’s base to $630,000 and divided up the remaining $11.52 over three seasons and added it on to his already steep salary.

          Yes, they knew all along that it was a very short-term fix as they would have to renegotiate again this year and likely work out an extension.

          The point is that until the situation is resolved and an extension is reached, (which I believe will happen, even if it’s right before camp like Stafford last year) the Lions are at a standstill financially.

  • jack_sprat2

    For months now, I’ve been reading and listening, as half the Western world has had its say regarding Suh’s contract situation. Oddly, amidst all of the vituperation and angst, not one reporter, “expert” or fan has mentioned the LIKELY reason for the supposed “delay” in his signing. Nor, curiously, is their a comparable drama playing out in Tampa Bay, where Gerald McCoy also remains unsigned.

    Suh is NOT going to be lapped by #3 the moment that he he signs with Detroit. Count on it. The man is too proud to countenance that.

    • Nate Williams

      I personally know Suh will not settle for anything less than becoming the highest paid defensive tackle.

      I also know that a deal of this magnitude will take time to hash out.

      The article simply covers what has happened in the offseason leading up to this point, what the best case scenario would be for both sides moving forward, and the effect, if any, the leagues other big money contract signings have on Suh and Sexton’s negotiations.

      Furthermore, McCoy is likely to wait for Suh to reach a deal before he signs his own.