February 21, 2014 at 7:30 pm

Lions' Martin Mayhew optimistic about signing Ndamukong Suh to extension

Lions general manager Martin Mayhew on signing Ndamukong Suh to an extension: 'I anticipate something getting done.' (Daniel Mears / Detroit News)

Indianapolis — Lions general manager Martin Mayhew sounded optimistic about the prospects of crafting a contract extension for All-Pro defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, even though negotiations have yet to begin because Suh hasn’t picked an agent.

“I spoke to him about a week ago and said, ‘We will be at the combine next week. Don’t want to rush you on the agent thing but if you had one by then, that would be nice. There’s no (rush). It’s up to you to pick the right guy,’” Mayhew told reporters Friday morning at the NFL scouting combine. “We had that conversation and then I reached out to him on my way (to the combine) and we missed each other a couple times.

“I finally talked to him yesterday and he said he’s getting close to picking an agent but he hasn’t picked one yet. I declined to start the negotiations with him right there. We are going to wait for him to get an agent and we will get rolling.”

It has been reported Suh hired Jay Z’s agency, Roc Nation Sports, to handle his business affairs. He still hasn’t hired a sports agent that is certified by the NFL players’ association to negotiate his player’s contract.

“In our discussion he told me he’s narrowed his list down,” Mayhew said. “I haven’t asked him any specific names or anything like that. I usually take whatever I read on those matters about who’s going to representing guys with a grain of salt until he signs that deal.

“Having done this before, those names get out there for a reason. It’s not from the player. I don’t know who his agent is going to be at this point, but I know he’s going to narrow it down to a few guys. I think he’ll make a decision soon.”

Suh presently occupies $22.4 million of the team’s salary cap. By working out an extension, the team could lower that number and clear more room to sign other free agents. But Mayhew made it clear, any delay in working Suh’s deal, or the inability to work a deal, wouldn’t be a setback for the team in free agency.

“If it doesn’t get done, we’re fine with that,” Mayhew said. “We can create some space and we can get some room right now. The cap went up (from $126 million to roughly $130 million). It won’t be a setback or a cap crunch if we don’t get something done with him in the near future.

“But I anticipate something getting done.”

The Lions worked out similar extensions for receiver Calvin Johnson (before the 2012 season) and quarterback Matthew Stafford (before last season) and Mayhew said they could be working on a similar time frame.

“If you go back to the last two we did, the big deals that were extensions with Matthew and Calvin, Matthew’s was done after the start of free agency and Calvin’s was done on the eve of free agency,” Mayhew said. “I wouldn’t be surprised if this one happened the same way, in that same time frame — on the eve of free agency or into free agency. The likelihood of getting something done now or next week isn’t looking good anyway.”

Free agency and the beginning of the new fiscal year in the NFL is March 11.

Mayhew said there has been no discussion of the possibility of trading Suh.

“I haven’t really given that any thought,” he said. “I anticipate we’ll get something done. He said he wants to be here and we’d like him to be here. That’s my mindset right now.”

chris.mccosky@detroitnews.com
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