Lions president Tom Lewand mentioned during an interview on Sunday that he believes there is a “very, very good chance” they will be able to get a long-term contract in place with impending free agent DT Ndamukong Suh.
“He wants to have success in the NFL, obviously, but he wants to do that with us,” Lewand said, via the Detroit Free Press. “And I think that — I think there’s a very, very good chance that we can get something done with him in the next few weeks.”
Lewand expressed confidence that they will be able to make things work from a contractual stand point, even though Suh is well positioned to be the highest paid defensive player in the league.
“We’ve had a good chunk of our salary cap tied up in three players over the last few years,” Lewand said. “Matthew (Stafford), Calvin (Johnson) and Ndmukong have all had very lucrative contracts under the old rookie system, and even as Matthew and Calvin have done their extensions. So we’ve done that, we’ve lived in that environment. There’s no reason we can’t continue to live in that environment.”
However, retaining Suh at a market-value price would force the team to consider some tough roster decisions, according to Lewand.
“We plan really well looking out into the future and where our salary cap goes,” Lewand said. “I think we can do that. I have no doubt that we can do that with Ndamukong, make him a continuing part of the core of our football team, and that’s what that’s all about in this league is identifying those core players and building around those guys. And there’s no doubts that there’s trade outs that have to happen along the way. You can’t keep everybody because it is a hard cap, but if you have a good nucleus of guys, then that draft every year comes through and you can keep adding good players to the mix.”
According to Mortensen, Detroit has made re-signing Suh a “high priority” even though it’s likely to cost them a significant amount of money to keep him away from the free agent market.
Mortensen mentions that the Lions have gotten “positive vibes” from Suh about wanting to continue his career in Detroit.
A team source tells Mortensen that signing Suh would still be a priority even if it meant losing WR Calvin Johnson. However, the Lions believe they can figure out a way to retain both players.
Last we heard regarding Suh, Adam Schefter reported that people close to Suh believe that playing in New York, Dallas or Chicago always has appealed to him.
Schefter mentions that any team could use a player of Suh’s caliber, but you could easily see him fitting in with the Giants, Jets, Cowboys and Bears.
There has been a lot of talk in recent days as to whether or not the Lions will use their franchise tag on Suh to prevent him from departing in free agency.
However, Schefter has spoken to a number of sources around the league who do not see the Lions going that route based on the fact that it would cost them $26.87 million.
Schefter expects Suh to be the “most desirable unrestricted free agent on the market” if he ends up being available.
It’s worth mentioning that Lions GM Martin Mayhew didn’t rule out the idea of using the franchise tag on him, despite the huge cap hit they would incur.
Suh, 27, has recorded 51 tackles, 8.5 sacks and three pass defenses over the course of 16 games. Pro Football Focus has him rated as the No. 3 defensive tackle in the league.
We have Suh ranked as the No. 2 player in our Top 50 – 2015 Free Agents List.