If the Lions don't agree to an extension with Ndamukong Suh, there's a chance 2014 could be his last season in Detroit because he can void his contract before the 2015 season. (Robin Buckson / Detroit News)
Mobile, Ala. — For the third offseason in a row, the Lions will try to sign a member of their big three — wide receiver Calvin Johnson, quarterback Matthew Stafford and defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh — to an extension.
Last week Lions president Tom Lewand said there is mutual interest in signing Suh to a long-term deal, but after Senior Bowl practices in Mobile on Monday, general manager Martin Mayhew said there is no timetable for that extension.
“We certainly like the way that he’s playing,” Mayhew said. “We’d like to have Ndamukong around. He’s expressed that he wants to be here in the long-term, so I think there’s a time frame where that might get done, but I don’t know when that’s going to be.”
Johnson signed an extension in 2012 and Stafford in 2013, and Suh’s potential contract would help the Lions for the long and short term. In the immediate future, reducing his $22.4 million salary cap figure in 2014 would give the team more room to sign free agents this offseason.
NFL free agency begins March 11.
“I think it gives you more flexibility if it’s done prior to (free agency), but we’re going to get by without it,” Mayhew said.
As far as the long-term prospects, Suh is one of the top defensive tackles in the league. He demands constant double teams, and at 27 years old, the second overall pick in 2010 is still on the upswing in his career. In 2013, Suh had 49 tackles, six for loss, 5.5 sacks, a forced fumble, a safety and showed improved awareness with a career-high six passes defensed.
Cincinnati Bengals defensive tackle Geno Atkins, another top defensive tackle, signed a five-year, $55 million extension last year, so Suh can fetch something similar, though possibly more because of his marketability.
If the Lions don’t agree to an extension with Suh, there’s a chance 2014 could be his last season in Detroit because he can void his contract before the 2015 season.
“There certainly will be an effort made to try to get that done and try to get an extension done long term,” Mayhew said.
While Suh’s on-field incidents have often detracted from his play — earning him $216,875 in fines as well as a two-game suspension during four seasons — Mayhew said he has no concerns about the mean streak.
“He’s been really outstanding,” Mayhew said.