Lions DT Ndamukung Suh
If you are a fan of the Detroit Lions, at some point this offseason you have probably asked yourself, what is going on with Ndamukong Suh? Is he going to be extended before his contract is up? Should we worry about him not attending any of the offseason voluntary workouts? Should we be moving on without him? I plan to clear up all of those questions here. We are going to look at three things; Suh’s production, Suh’s contract, and Suh’s status – both past and present – in regards to voluntary workouts. I am first going to start with Suh’s production.
Suh was drafted second overall by the Detroit Lions in 2010. At the time there was concern that was too high of a pick for a defensive tackle. There was concern about his contract numbers, and there was concern about whether he was just dominant in college or if his game would translate to the NFL. Suh answered those questions by posting ridiculous numbers in his rookie season. He recorded sixty six tackles, ten sacks, and an interception. He instantly became a player that opposing offenses would game plan around. That became apparent in his second season when his statistics dipped to a mere thirty six tackles and four sacks. It was questioned whether his rookie season was a fluke. It was questioned whether he was just the product of being the best player on a bad defense. It was also mentioned that he could be in the dreaded sophomore slump. His coaches though did not buy any of that. They reassured everyone in the media as well as the fans that he was just as productive as his rookie year by having opposing offenses work around him. This was proven to be true in his third season in Detroit when he recorded a measly thirty four tackles but added a whopping eight sacks. In that season, he pretty much solidified that he was a force of a pass rusher, but he needed some help around him so that opponents could not simply scheme him out of the picture. The Lions got him a little help up front in last year’s draft with the addition of Ezekiel Ansah and Devin Taylor. They also added Jason Jones in free agency. While his sack numbers dipped to five and a half on the season, his tackles went up to forty nine and there was no doubting his impact on every game. Teams could not just work around him anymore.
So, given his production, how important are voluntary workouts for him to be at? Well quite simply, they are not important at all. While the coaches and his teammates would love for him to be there, he has not ever attended those in the past, he is not attending them now, and I suspect he will not attend in the future. Suh has always worked out on his own in the offseason and has never attended mandatory camp in anything less than great shape. He is a premier athlete who has dominated at this level and his way seems to work. It is only this offseason that we make a big deal about his absence. Maybe we are concerned that he needs to be there because of his new coaches and likely their new scheme. I suspect we are more concerned about his contract talks.
The reason we are hearing so much about Suh’s contract and needing to get him extended is not so much because he might leave after the season. He is still under contract for 2015. The concern is that his contract number for this season is $22.5 million against the salary cap. Because of that number, fans fear that the Lions were unable to do what the wanted during the free agency period, and they were also worried that this would impact our ability to sign our draft picks. Tom Lewand and Martin Mayhew have come out and said many times that Suh’s contract is not limiting their plans and that they are confident that a new deal will get done. So given what we have seen thus far, I think it is safe to stop worrying about Suh.