Once considered the cornerstone of the Lions defense, the team has put out feelers around the league to see what they would be able to receive in exchange for the two-time All-Pro tackle.
Per Freeman, the Lions aren’t even close to “pulling the trigger on a trade,” but team officials suggest the team is exploring what they could get if contract talks with Suh go south very quickly.
This means, quite simply, the Lions are covering their asses, just in case the worst happens. They are gauging interest, seeing what they might be able to get in terms of draft picks.
“What the Lions are doing is standard operating procedure,” one team executive said. “Just in case they don’t think they can sign him, they’re preparing for worst case. It’s smart.”
In other words, the Lions are doing their due diligence. They would be foolish not to.
Suh, 27, is in the fourth year of a five-year, $60 million contract and is set to earn $11.55 million in 2014 and an overall salary cap hit of more than $22 million. The fifth year of his deal is a voidable year, and Suh has consequently been seeking an extension.
Suh skipped voluntary workouts, which is not the indicator of a holdout but more so just a player taking advantage of his veteran status. Suh is taking part in his normal offseason routine, first-year Lions coach Jim Caldwell said, and the team knew he would not be there for the voluntary workouts.
Freeman suggests Detroit would be wise to deal Suh, who he calls “too flammable on the field” and “not enough of a leader off it” to be worth the enormous salary he’s paid.
There are two important facts that must be stressed here. First, team officials that have spoken with the Lions believe strongly that the Lions and Suh will work out some sort of arrangement and that Suh will stay in Detroit.
Second, teams thinking of trading for Suh love his ability but do not trust him. At all. In fact, these officials explain, one of the reasons that the Lions might not end up trading Suh is that other teams are nervous about handing him a great deal of cash.
“Every team in football would love to have (Suh),” said one team official, “but his behavior on the field still makes teams nervous. There’s a feeling that he has no self-control.”
The Lions did their due diligence, working out top defensive line prospects like Jadeveon Clowney in case they could find a trade partner for Suh and perhaps trade up in the first round. But according to Freeman, it doesn’t seem as if teams believe Suh is worth losing a top draft pick.
It also doesn’t look like Suh has a bright future in the Motor City — unless he’s willing to make a serious adjustment in how he carries himself both on and off the field. The Lions are likely to keep Suh, mostly because the market for him is seemingly barren.