Free Agency in the NFL kicked off on Tuesday, and arguably the biggest name is off the board.
Free agent defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh has signed a monster deal with the Miami Dolphins for 6 years, worth $114 million, with $60 million already guaranteed. With the deal, Suh becomes the new highest paid defensive player in the NFL, passing Houston Texans product J.J. Watt, and the fifth highest paid player overall based on average yearly earning. Many people are wondering if Ndamukong Suh is worth that much money.
Let me first start off by saying wow. Wow. It is truly hard to fathom how much $114 million dollars is. It only cost the French $5.4 million in today’s money to build the Statue of Liberty back in the 1870’s. To use a reference a little bit closer to home, the cost to Indiana residents to build the state capitol building was $43.5 million.
I could go on and on with this, but I think you get the idea. Now that we’ve realized just how much money that is and that no average person would ever come close to seeing that kind of money in their lifetime, we need to figure out if the Dolphins owner Stephen Ross made a good deal with Suh, or if they got less than what they paid for.
Now it’s no question just how good Ndamukong Suh has been for the Detroit Lions defense during his tenure. This past season, the Lions defense finished 3rd in the NFL in total yards allowed. The last time the Lions defense ranked in the top 10 in that category was 1993. Suh had 8.5 sacks in 2014, and finished with 46 total tackles. He has also played in 78 out of 80 possible games in his career (he was suspended for two games in 2011 for stomping on a Green Bay offensive lineman, more on that and his suspensions later).
It’s safe to say that the Lions have come to enjoy Suh’s company over the past 4 seasons. Just how much are they going to miss him? We’ll have to wait until the second week in September to truly find the answer to that question.
It is quite apparent that Suh has the potential for downside. The most obvious downside is his “aggressive” style of play. Over his career, Suh has been fined eight times and suspended once (he appealed his suspension at the end of 2014 and it was overturned).
He has accumulated a total of $611,169 in fines during his career. It should be noted that on average only 20% of American households even break six figures as far as income. I know I’ve mentioned money before, but one point I really want to drive home with this article is just how much money is being dealt with here.
Can Ndamukong Suh be depended on to play every game in one season? As of now I would have to say no. Think of what would’ve happened to Detroit if Suh’s suspension wasn’t overturned. In that game, he alone had 3 tackles, 2 sacks, and 2 tackles for loss. He was such a big difference maker to the Lions in that game, and it’s easy to see how different it would have been without him.
What I would like to do now is go in depth into some statistics. I mean really in depth. Let’s first take a look at the some of the salary cap figures the Dolphins will be dealing with by signing Suh. This year, he is set to make just $985,000. He also has a $5.1 million signing bonus that he will get each year. His total cap hit (the total amount of money a player costs his team per year) for 2015 is $6.08 million, which is just 4.4% of the Dolphins active contracts.
Doesn’t seem that bad, but as every infomercial says “Wait! There’s more!” For 2016, Suh is set to make around $23.5 million, ending with a total cap hit of $28.6 million. This comes to a whopping total of 22.3% of the Dolphins active contracts.
Whoa wait…what? Yeah, that’s real. Miami is using over 1/5 of their cap room on a defensive tackle. Let’s compare this to other defensive tackles around the league. Darnell Dockett, a 3 time pro bowler, signed a contract with the Arizona Cardinals for 6 years, worth $56 million back in 2010. During his most expensive season, Dockett only cost the Cardinals $5.75 million. Justin Smith, 5 time pro bowler and Sports Illustrated’s Defensive Player of the Year in 2011, cost the 49ers just $6.37 million during his most expensive year in 2014.
It was obvious to you before reading this article that Ndamukong Suh is the best, if not one of the best defensive tackles in the NFL today. Anyone hardcore football fan who has watched him play would agree. This contract that he signed with the Dolphins however has restricted Miami from making any big time moves in the future due to being locked up with Suh. Is he worth the amount of money that the Dolphins are paying him? My opinion has been voiced. I’ll let the reader decide.