Suh will bolster Dolphins' sagging run defense

Dave Holzman
Special to The Detroit News

One of the Miami Dolphins' biggest questions heading into free agency was whether it would re-sign defensive tackle Jared Odrick.

The answer to that question appears to be no after the biggest fish on the free agent market, Ndamukong Suh, decided Sunday he would leave the Detroit Lions and sign with the Dolphins when the signing period begins Tuesday. The Dolphins reportedly will pay Suh $114 million over six years with $60 million guaranteed and will become the highest-paid defensive player in the NFL.

The Dolphins probably cannot afford Odrick after they sign Suh and the Jacksonville Jaguars are mentioned as a team that will now go hard after Odrick.

Suh likely will line up next to 11-year veteran Randy Starks and replace Odrick on the Dolphins' defensive front four and fortify a defense that struggled down the stretch last season.

With Miami in the playoff race, it lost four of its last six games. In that stretch, the Dolphins' defense allowed 992 rushing yards (165.3 yards per game) and nine rushing touchdowns. Suh, who spearheaded the Lions' No. 2-ranked defense last season, becomes that run-stuffer the Dolphins desperately need.

Odrick, who now will be a highly sought free agent, was no slouch. The former first-round draft pick from Penn State started all 16 games last year and had 29 tackles and one sack.

But he's not in Suh's stratosphere. Suh recorded 53 tackles last season with 81/2 sacks, his second-largest total since the 10 he recorded his rookie season in 2010. In his five-year Lions career, Suh, a four-time All-Pro, has played and started in all but two games and has 180 tackles and 36 sacks, the second-most among defensive tackles in that span.

Immediately, Suh will be the Dolphins' best player on defense.

According to ESPN, along with his 81/2 sacks, Suh had 101/2 disrupted dropbacks last season. The Dolphins' defensive tackles last season (Starks, Earl Mitchell and Odrick) combined for 71/2 sacks and 141/2 disrupted dropbacks as a group.

The Dolphins hope the signing of Suh helps them return to the playoffs. Miami's postseason futility is nearly as bad as the Lions' this century. The Dolphins have reached the postseason just once since the 2001 season (2008) and have not won a playoff game since winning a wild-card game in 2000.

dholzman@detroitnews.com

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