Ndamukong Suh Not Getting Franchise Tag From Detroit Lions


The prayers of NFL general managers with high amounts of cap space to spend on Ndamukong Suh have been answered on Monday morning as news has come out of Detroit reporting that the Lions defensive tackle will be entering 2015 NFL Free Agency on March 10. Lions general manager Martin Mayhew walking away from the negotiating table without playing his trump card of tagging Suh for one final season in Detroit guaranteed should he have used his franchise tag.

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Instead the Lions announced on Monday that they will not be using the franchise tag on Suh, who could be a $20 million plus free agency target for teams who are willing to spend. Suh made around $22.4 million in a renegotiated salary during the 2014 season so the pricetag was one that put Mayhew in a tough position when it came to tagging the superstar defensive tackle who has called Detroit his home for the entirety of his NFL career.

The decision to not tag Suh made sense for the Lions, who would have been on the hook for increasing Suh’s salary to a staggering $26 million in 2015 due to the league rules stipulating teams have to increase franchise tagged salaries by 120%. A number that doesn’t suit a Lions team that has Golden Tate, Matthew Stafford, and Calvin Johnson on the offensive side of the ball which makes it difficult to house what some expect to be the next highest defensive contract in NFL history under their salary cap even with an increase in the cap for the 2015 season.

According to NFL.com, that potential $26 million plus cap hit is what made Mayhew step away from the franchise tag option and allow Suh to hit the open market, even if it means losing a defensive tackle with high production along with a mean streak that makes him one of the NFL’s most special players on the interior of the defensive line.

From NFL.com

"Ndamukong Suh will hit the open market.The Detroit Lions announced Monday that they will not franchise tag the star defensive tackle.The tag would have cost Detroit $26.8 million because his renegotiated salary in 2014 was $22.4 million (the tag calls for 120 percent increase in a player’s salary from the previous season).The number seemed prohibitive from the start. However, general manager Martin Mayhew wouldn’t rule out using the tag to ensure Suh would have been in Detroit for at least one more season. The reality of paying such an exorbitant amount to one player — regardless of his importance to one of the NFL’s top defenses — likely persuaded Mayhew to decide against the tag."

Now teams will have an opportunity to bid what they feel Suh is worth beginning on March 10, and there should be no shortage of general managers who will be willing to give into the expectation from Suh’s camp to make the defensive tackle the highest paid player on the defensive side of the ball in the league. JJ Watt money is what Suh is expecting and could very well receive despite not having the same impact on the interior of the defensive line that an outside pass rusher like Watt has.

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What Suh does bring is an intensity as well as production that few have seen at the defensive tackle position since Warren Sapp was in the league. Unlike Sapp, who was brought in by the Raiders from Tampa Bay as a free agency splash that didn’t pan out for Al Davis, Suh is going to be entering free agency in the prime of his career at 28 years old in what will be just his sixth NFL season. Because of that Suh is going to be demanding big money for guaranteed production at the defensive tackle position, which will have teams willing to pay up when it comes down to negotiating with the best defensive player available on March 10.

It is going to be interesting to see if Suh does get the highest paid contract in the league for defensive players after not being tagged for $26 million by the Lions. If that does happen it may be to a team that is outside of playoff contention and has plenty of cap space to spend on trying to become a real contender in 2015. Teams such as the Jacksonville Jaguars, Cleveland Browns, Tennessee Titans, or New York Jets could get into the mix with the Oakland Raiders for the services of Suh so it looks like the defensive tackle could very well get over his $22.4 million salary from 2014 in the open market.

Other teams to watch out for include the Indianapolis Colts, Cincinnati Bengals, Atlanta Falcons and Green Bay Packers who all have over $30 million in cap space while being able to offer Suh the chance to compete in the playoffs which is something he will likely want if he is to love a successful Lions team after making the playoffs last year.

As for the Raiders, general manager Reggie McKenzie will likely express interest and see what the market is before making his decision. Known to stick to his perceived value of players, the number for Suh will have to fit if the Raiders are to make a run for the defensive tackle. That means a long list of teams will have to avoid inflating the market on Suh, but if the price is right McKenzie should be expected to make a push for the defensive tackle who could make a dominant defensive front alongside promising 2014 first round draft pick Khalil Mack. Just don’t expect it to be by the way of outbidding teams that are already going to create a frenzy for Suh if it does happen.