What If The Detroit Lions Trade Ndamukong Suh?


Dec 22, 2013; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh (90) sits on the bench before the game against the New York Giants at Ford Field. Giants beat the Lions 23-20. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

Now that Ndamukong Suh has hired an agent, one could assume that Martin Mayhew is working overtime this weekend to get a contract extension done that reduce’s the defensive tackles cap hit for the 2014 season. It is hoped that a new contract would cut Suh’s cap hit of  over 22 million dollars in half giving the Lions more cap space to plug some holes in the roster.

But as the clock ticks down to the beginning of free agency, the chances of a getting contract extension with a palatable cap number wanes. If the Lions get stuck paying Suh’s full salary of $22,412, 500, they do have other options available to create cap space.

There is an option that has been batted about the airwaves of sports talk radio over the last couple of days.

The Lions could trade Ndamukong Suh.

It is one thing to propose that a team trade a high-priced star player but quite another to actually do it. However research shows that there are a couple of teams with the cap space available (or willingness to create the space) to make a trade for Ndamukong Suh.

Before we look at the potential trade partners on a Suh trade lets first come to the realization that the Lions will not get equal value in the trade. Much of the value will be in freeing salary cap space to buy more free agents that will help the Lions win this season. That said although it may not be equal there is still value.

Here are a couple of potential trade partners for Ndamukong Suh

Oakland Raiders

The Oakland Raiders have a whopping $66 million in cap space this season. Putting that into perspective, 66 million is nearly half of their available salary cap for 2014.  Oakland has more than enough cap space to accommodate Suh’s bloated contract this season and enough space to sign him to a long-term deal.

But the deal makes sense for the Raiders beyond simply having cap space.  They also have a big need in the middle of their defense.  A need that could be filled by arguable the best defensive linemen in the game.

The Raiders ranked 22 in the NFL in overall defense (28th passing, 13th rushing). Suh can help the Raider improve in both categories as he excels in both stopping the run and rushing the passer.

And then there is that raider attitude.  Suh’s bad boy persona would fit in well with the Oakland Raiders who have embraced a dirty style of play.

So what could the Lions expect in return?  A first round pick, maybe more. The Raiders have the 5th overall pick in the draft; a pick that Mel Kiper projects will be used to draft Sammy Watkins.  Although it seems the Raiders wouldn’t trade a chance to draft the wide receiver from Clemson they might be willing to do so for Suh.  Suh is the type of player a rebuilding team like the Raiders can use to build a solid defense around.

Cleveland Browns

The Browns also have a lot of cap space.  Over 46 million in fact.  So it might make sense for the Browns to fill their need for a defense tackle by trading a pick or two to land the best one in the league.  The Browns also have the ability to sign Suh long-term based on their current salary commitments.

The Browns have already made significant commitments at the defensive end position.  Trading for Ndamukong Suh would only enhance those investments and make the Brown’s defensive line a force to be reckoned with.

Signability Is key

Of course any teams willingness to trade anything of value for Ndamukong Suh depends on their ability to sign the all-pro D-linemen to a long-term deal.  That is why expecting a first round pick for Suh could be setting yourself up for disappointment. But fans should remember that a trade involving Suh would not be about getting equal value but freeing up cap space to plug any number of holes.

Ndamukong Suh is a great player, no question. But in this era of salary caps, having Suh in the middle at such a high price is a luxury the Detroit Lions can’t afford.  Hopefully, Ndamukong Suh is serious about being a team leader and negotiates a contract that makes salary cap sense for the Lions. If he doesn’t it might be in the Lions best interest to cut bait now while they can still benefit from the extra room under the salary cap.