Detroit Lions Pro Bowl defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh is in the final year of his contract, in which he's slated to count an $22.4 million against the cap in 2014. The Lions are enjoying a 3-1 start to their season behind the strength of their defense, led by the All-Pro defensive tackle.
However, the former second-overall pick of the 2010 NFL Draft is set to have his contract expire this offseason, and he may already be eying an escape from Detroit.
An earlier report this year suggested that Suh was going to leave for one of the two New York teams next offseason, but a trade speculation article by ESPN suggests the Bengals should trade for him before the NFL trade deadline in exchange for rookie cornerback Darqueze Dennard.
Detroit Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh to the Cincinnati Bengals for a second-round pick and cornerback Darqueze Dennard
Even though his base salary is $12.555 million, Suh would cost the Bengals "only" ten-seventeenths of that for the remainder of the season -- $7.385 million, a salary-cap hit they can comfortably afford. Getting Dennard (Cincinnati's first-round pick in 2014 and a Michigan State product) from the corner-rich Bengals and a second-rounder would be a windfall.
The Bengals, meanwhile, think they're close to a Super Bowl. But lately, being close hasn't been enough. The famously frugal franchise is feeling the heat after going 0-for-3 in the postseason the past three years (FYI, they allowed 77 points in those three games). Cincinnati hasn't won a playoff game in 24 years (remember the Ickey Shuffle?) and Suh could be the game-changer to fix that.
This trade would cure a lot of the Bengals' recent woes, but it's nothing more than a pipe dream. Getting the best defensive tackle in football from a team currently leading its division is never going to happen.
Suh is one of the best defenders in football, as evidenced by him finishing the 2013 season as the No. 2 DT via Pro Football Focus. His rating has improved every year since he came into the NFL, and his +33.9 grade last year was the fifth-best by any defensive player.
Only Robert Quinn, Von Miller, Calais Campbell, J.J. Watt and Gerald McCoy had a better grade than him.
My opinion: As the article says in the beginning, this deal is unlikely, and it's more likely Suh plays out the year and leaves this offseason. The Jets are probably the team to beat for Suh this offseason if he does want to play for a New York team. They have around $40 million in projected salary space to sign a player like Suh, and if they do....oh my.
We're talking about a defensive front-seven that includes Quinton Coples, Muhammad Wilkerson, Sheldon Richardson, Calvin Pace and the aforementioned Suh. That would be one of the best front-sevens in recent memory.