Ndamukong Suh’s Next Contract Might Not Be So Groundbreaking


No matter what happens over the next couple weeks, Ndamukong Suh is going to be looking at a lot of money. Barring the franchise tag, Suh will command a massive long-term contract that may make him the NFL’s highest-paid defensive player.

In terms of absolute dollars, the deal would be record-setting. However, in proportion to the projected salary cap, it may not be groundbreaking.

Joel Corry, a former sports agent who now offers his expertise to CBS Sports, is out with a new piece looking at how the Seattle Seahawks could get creative with a new contract for Russel Wilson. Contained therein is a nugget of history relevant to Ndamukong Suh’s situation.

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"I was the co-negotiator of the five-year, $32.5 million deal John Randle signed in 1998 as transition player to remain with the Minnesota Vikings. Randle’s contract contained what at the time was an unprecedented $20 million in guarantees without offsets. Randle become the NFL’s highest-paid defensive player with that contract. To put the deal in better perspective, it was signed when the salary cap was $52.388 million. It would be the equivalent of deal averaging slightly under $17.75 million per year and containing approximately $54.5 million in guarantees with a $143 million salary cap."

That puts the speculation that Suh could receive around an average of $17 million on an annual basis and approach $60 million in guarantees into an interesting perspective as it is very similar, proportionally, to what the Vikings did with John Randle more than a decade and a half ago.

Whether or not it is prudent for the Lions to do such a deal can still be debated considering Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson are already on the books for big cap hits into the future. Carrying three big deals is seen by many as an untenable situation, although a report has already surfaced that the Lions would prioritize Suh over Calvin Johnson if hard decisions have to be made in the future.

The case of John Randle does serve as a cautionary tale. Three years into Randle’s five-year contract, the two sides parted ways as the Vikings sought a paycut while Randle wanted to play for a team with a better chance to win. However, Randle was 31-years old when he signed his big contract, while Suh just recently turned 28.

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