Lewand wouldn't rule out using the franchise tag to keep Suh next year, just said a lot of options on table— Dave Birkett (@davebirkett) July 28, 2014
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Although Lewand said he's optimistic the team can find a way to make the deal happen, Suh's massive 2014 base salary of $22.5 million (!) means that his franchise-tag number will be a whopping $27 million (!!) next year.
If the Lions are nuts enough to tag Suh at that level, he should just sign the franchise tender and collect the guaranteed pile of cash. It would be more than what Baltimore Ravens defensive lineman Haloti Ngata received for guaranteed money for his entire extension and $11 million more than what Suh's teammate, Calvin Johnson, received in the form of a signing bonus a year and a half ago.
This one is going to be extremely tough. The Lions, of course, don't have to make Suh their franchise player, but if they can't sign him now and Suh plays at an All Pro level this season, the price for an extension only goes up. And in Suh's mind — one that's tricky to crack — he might think his value should break the bank after this season even if he does not play at an elite level.
Suh is a very good player whose inconsistencies have been a tad frustrating. He's better than most of the defensive tackles in the NFL, and Suh occasionally has played at a very high level. But the Lions always appear to be wanting just a little more. We'll need to see how he fares with a new head coach and defensive coordinator, but you might be able to make the argument that Gerald McCoy — taken one slot after Suh in the 2010 draft — might have passed him as a player.
You get the feeling that the Lions are putting up a good front on their chances to re-sign Suh one day, but they can't really be feeling too good deep down. That franchise number would be cap-crippling to use on a quarterback, much less a defensive tackle, even one as talented as Suh. It's just not feasible unless it's a vehicle toward getting him signed for the long term.
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