Ndamukong Suh is entering the final year of his contract and the Detroit Lions would like to get an extension done. Suh has said he’d like the same. If only it turned out to be that easy.
ESPN’s Chris Mortensen reports today that the Lions are not optimistic about getting a deal done.
Lions are not optimistic about signing Ndamukong Suh to a new contract. He enters camp counting 22,412,500 against sal cap.
— Chris Mortensen (@mortreport) July 24, 2014
Through a series of simple restructures to free up salary cap space in previous years, Suh’s cap hit for the 2014 season is a whopping $22.4 million. While the Lions were able to gain some flexibility through those restructures, they handed over all the leverage in negotiations with their best defensive player as a result.
This season’s massive cap number realistically takes the franchise tag, the Lions’ only means of retaining Suh short of an extension, off the table. At 120% of Suh’s 2014 cap number, he would be due nearly $27 million on the franchise tag.
So where does that put us now? Time to panic? Not necessarily.
Suh changed agents over the offseason, eventually deciding upon Jimmy Sexton, who also happens to represent Jimmy Graham. Sexton is known as a “deadline agent” rather than one who looks to just get a deal done.
We saw this in how he handled Graham’s situation with the Saints. Everyone, even the Saints, knew that Graham’s value was sky-high but rather than just doing a deal, the two sides went through a grievance process by which an arbitrator had to rule on whether Graham is a tight end or a wide receiver. The only reason that matters is for the franchise tag; irrelevant to anyone working a long-term deal.
Until the ruling was made, there was no urgency (read: deadline) for Sexton to do a deal. Graham probably never would have played under the franchise tag even if he had been granted the wide receiver figure. It was always about a long-term deal, which he got, but the process had to play out.
The same can be said for Suh. Today’s report adds some information to an offseason point of interest that has been light on details but it is too early to say that a deal won’t get done. Suh and/or the Lions may not want to negotiate a deal during the season but that is still several weeks away. A deadline, real or imagined, will be set at some point, but that point isn’t today or even this week.