Ndamukong Suh finally named an agent late last week but that doesn’t mean talks with the Detroit Lions on a contract extension began immediately. In fact, according to NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport, talks still haven’t started.
Thought on #Lions has been they need to re-do Ndamukong Suh’s deal before free agency. Not so. Talks haven’t started. Can still be active
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) March 11, 2014
The Lions have maintained that reaching an agreement on a salary cap-clearing extension with Ndamukong Suh is not the only way for them to accomplish their goals. That’s a topic I also wrote about recently as I noticed a growing sense of worry turning to vitriol against Suh.
The Suh situation the Lions find themselves in comes down to two important fact to remember.
1. Any ire directed at Suh because of his current salary cap figure is misplaced.
2. A Suh extension isn’t the only way “out” of the situation.
We wouldn’t be talking about the Lions facing a $22.4 million 2014 cap number for Suh had the Lions used simple contract restructures in back to back years which converted Suh’s base salary to a signing bonus to spread the cap hit over the remaining years of the deal. The Lions would have about $6 million in extra cap space today had they addressed their tight salary cap situations in recent years without kicking Suh cap hits into the future. Now, Suh is being questioned on sports radio about just how much of a team player he really is. Funny considering it was being a team player that put the Lions in this position.
Even considering the opinion that Suh should continue to show himself as a team player by agreeing to an extension now, the Lions have other options. The salary cap is a numbers game and the Lions can still be active in free agency by constructing deals designed to keep the cap hit in year one as low as possible.
The Lions have two options:
1. Extend Suh to bump a portion of his big 2014 cap hit into the future before signing free agents, or
2. Sign free agents to deals with year one cap hits and larger future cap hits before extending Suh and keeping his 2014 cap number as high as tolerable.
The net effect of either strategy is the same. Pay for one now and the other later, or one later and the other now. A Suh extension prior to free agency may have been a cleaner solution, but it isn’t the only path forward.