The Detroit Lions didn’t use the franchise tag on Ndamukong Suh which means he is hitting free agency and is very likely to play for a different team in 2015 for the first time in his career. Who can have him? Teams with plenty of cap space, like the Indianapolis Colts, Oakland Raiders, Tennessee Titans and Jacksonville Jaguars.
As good as Suh is, being a four time Pro Bowl and four time All-Pro selection, he might be too expensive to be worth going after for some teams. The Lions tagging him would have meant almost $27 million counting against their cap. Suh has been with them since 2010, arguably the best defensive tackle in the NFL with the speed and explosiveness allowing him to play in a pass rusher role and in two different defensive schemes, but it also comes with behavioral problems leading to fines, suspensions and a lot scrutiny.
But Suh, as unpredictable as he might be in terms of suddenly kicking or hitting other players, delivers. He has 36 sacks in 78 games for the Lions, finishing with 8.5 last season. He formed a formidable partnership with Nick Fairley in the middle of the D-Line for the Lions that was very difficult to handle last season for a lot of teams, helping the Lions make the playoffs for only the second time in the last 15 years.
The teams mentioned above all have over $30 million in available cap space. Suh was making $12.5 million in base salary and averaging close to $13 million on his deal with the Lions. He’s going to be looking for the same kind of money over a long period of time from his next team. Something along the lines of $60-65 million with $20 million or more guaranteed over the course of five seasons, obviously eyeing becoming the highest paid player in his position, which is currently Gerald McCoy of the Buccaneers.
Suh is obviously going for the money, but in terms of staying on a team that’s going to be competitive right away, the Colts are obviously the best of the bunch among the candidates, making the playoffs in each of the last three seasons and looking to be quite close to being a serious Super Bowl contender with the right pieces being added on this offseason.