Highly-coveted free-agent defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, formerly of the Detroit Lions, has agreed to sign a six-year, $114 million deal with the Miami Dolphins.
Ndamukong Suh is going to the Miami Dolphins.
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The South Florida Sun-Sentinel's Chris Perkins and Omar Kelly confirmed Suh's acquisition on Sunday, March 8. The Dolphins will sign him to a six-year, $114 million deal with $60 million in guaranteed money, which will paid during the first three years of the contract.
Perkins and Kelly say Suh's guaranteed money would rank second behind San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, whose guaranteed purse is $61 million. Suh's ranks higher than Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo ($55 million), Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers ($54 million) and Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler ($54 million).
Alain Poupart of the Dolphins' official website tweeted the team had discussions with Suh's agent, Jimmy Sexton, over the weekend:
On the other hand, ESPN's Chris Mortensen says while the Lions and other clubs had lucrative offers of their own, "the Dolphins' parameters far exceeded the rest of the clubs interested in the defensive tackle." The deal must be negotiated on the first day of the league's new year on Tuesday, March 10 at 4 p.m. ET.
A league source told Mortensen that Detroit was dangling a contract which offered Suh $17 million per season plus $58 million in guaranteed money. Sports tax specialist Robert Raiola, senior manager at the accounting firm O'Connor Davis in New York City, told Mortensen that the Lions and Oakland Raiders--Suh's closest pursuers-- would only be able to match the state of Florida's after-tax net earnings on a $60 million guarantee if they paid him $64.9 million and $70.1 million, respectively.
Once his federal income tax and "jock tax" are deducted from his $60 million paycheck, Suh will receive a net income of $34.7 million, per Mortensen.
According to The Detroit Free Press' Dave Birkett, the Lions "never made a firm offer during negotiations," which began last spring. Suh still was leaning toward staying in Detroit as late as this weekend, taking into account his relationship with head coach Jim Caldwell and the other members of the team.
Birkett further explains the Lions' stand on Suh:
"The Lions spent most of the past year insisting they would get a deal done with Suh, but they showed little inclination to meet his demands of being the highest-paid defensive player in the game last spring, declined to use the franchise tag on Monday, and by late Saturday it became apparent they would not match Miami's contract offer."
Dolphins cornerback Brent Grimes told The South Florida Sun-Sentinel would be a game changer for their defense. He said,"He's a great player. He's a difference-maker. Anytime you add a difference-maker to your defense, it's a positive."
Perkins and Kelly stress Suh's addition would mean the Dolphins have locked up a big-name free agent for the third consecutive year. Two years ago, Miami signed former Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Mike Wallace to a five-year, $60 million deal. A year later, the team inked left tackle Branden Albert to a five-year, $47 million contract.
Suh would also be the third Pro Bowler on the Dolphins' lineup. Grimes and defensive end Cameron Wake are the other two. This is the first time this has happened in 12 years. Back in 2003, Miami had four Pro Bowlers in defensive end Adewale Ogunleye, safety Brock Marion, cornerback Pat Surtain and linebacker Zach Thomas, per The South Florida Sun-Sentinel.
Suh would take over the position held previously by defensive tackle Jared Odrick, who is not expected to return to the Dolphins. A league source told Perkins and Kelly that the Oakland Raiders, Denver Broncos and Jacksonville Jaguars are all vying for Odrick's services to the tune of around $7 million annually. Miami was not willing to pay him as much which is why he is expected to sign with another team.
Perkins and Kelly add tight end Charles Clay's probable depature to the Buffalo Bills would free up $7 million in salary-cap space. Should Clay leave, Miami would be able to re-sign defensive tackle Randy Starks, who is due $6 million in 2015. Prior to agreeing with Suh, the Dolphins had around $10 million to spend in free agency.
The South Florida Sun-Sentinel update mentions the return of Wallace next season is still uncertain. Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin benched Wallace for the second half of the season finale against the New York Jets after a disagreement over his playing time. Perkins and Kelly say Wallace has had talks with both Miami general manager Dennis Hickey and quarterback Ryan Tannehill.
As for the Lions, Suh's departure leaves a huge void in their defensive line. The team has reached out to fifth-year defensive tackle Nick Fairley, who had 13.5 sacks during his first four years in Detroit. The downside is Fairley has never completed a 16-game season in his career. He suited up in just eight games in 2014 due to two sprained ligaments in his knee, per Birkett.
Aside from Fairley, The Detroit Free Press update says the Lions are also interested in Odrick, Dan Williams, Stephen Paea and Corey Peters.
During his five-year tenure in Detroit, Suh made four Pro Bowl and three first-team All Pro rosters. He amassed 238 tackles, 36 sacks, 13 pass breakups, two forced fumbles, a fumble recovery and an interception in 78 career regular-season games, per Mortensen.
Suh has missed just two regular-season games in his entire NFL career. He sat out those games because of a suspension he incurred after stomping on then-Green Bay Packers offensive lineman Evan Dietrich-Smith. He was supposed to have been suspended for the NFC Wild Card game against the Dallas Cowboys for stepping on Rodgers during their regular-season finale in December. The NFL fined Suh $70,000 instead, per Mortensen.
The ESPN update says Suh has lost a total of $420,669 because of fines and suspensions.
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