The Detroit Lions have made recent headlines with their decision not to place the franchise tag on star defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh. While the possibility remains Suh and the Lions will reach an agreement in the coming weeks, chances are he will hit the open market. Should the New York Jets, with over $50 million in cap space, try to add the add Suh to their roster?
The New York Jets are at a crossroads. With the sixth pick in the 2015 NFL draft and an abundance of cap space this offseason, new general manager Mike Maccagnan will be tasked with shaping the roster for years to come. This roster makeover should start by evaluating the quarterback situation, with the Philadelphia Eagles’ Nick Foles and Oregon’s Marcus Mariota as potential options. The Jets should then look to upgrade at wide receiver, outside linebacker, and offensive line.
With all these glaring needs on the field, should the Jets tie up their cap space to Ndamukong Suh?
Suh, measuring in at 6’4″ and weighing 305 pounds is a physically gifted monster. He’s played his entire five year career with the Detroit Lions, missing only two out of a possible 80 games. In his rookie season in 2010, Suh put up the best numbers of his career, amassing 10 sacks, 66 tackles, a forced fumble, and an interception. Suh fell off the next year, sacking the opposing quarterback only four times in fourteen games, but has averaged 7.3 sacks over the last three seasons.
What Suh brings to the football field is an aggressive demeanor, hell-bent on taking down opposing quarterbacks and stopping the run. However, this demeanor has caused trouble at times, as Suh has compiled multiple fines and suspensions resulting from in-game outbursts. Suh’s most recent suspension was overturned by the league, but would have had Suh miss a playoff contest against the Dallas Cowboys. It’s inexcusable for a seasoned NFL player to commit suspension-inducing acts when their team’s playoff results are on the line.
At 28-years-old, Suh is a little old for his first major contract, and this will likely be the only big pay day of his career. Whether the Lions or another team around the NFL, Suh is set to get paid. And that’s precisely why the Jets should not sign the defensive tackle.
The Jets undoubtedly have the funds to secure Suh, with approximately $50 million in cap room. The Jets can be expected to make at least one big signing, paying a player over $10 million a year. Suh is simply not worth that cap investment- at least for the Jets.
The defensive line, specifically defensive tackles, are already a strong point for the Jets. 25-year-old Muhammad Wilkerson has 24.0 sacks in four seasons with the Jets, and a jaw-dropping seven forced fumbles. Wilkerson’s sheer power and ability to both get to the quarterback and strip him of the ball is extremely valuable to the team.
Playing next to him, Sheldon Richardson has made a huge impact in two seasons with Gang Green. Playing in all 32 games, Richardson has registered 11.5 sacks and 2 forced fumbles. He was even crowned the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year in his inaugural season. Richardson has also proved himself as an offensive asset, emulating William “The Refrigerator” Perry and scoring two rushing touchdowns in his rookie season. Richardson is a superb run-stopper, totaling 144 tackles in his first two seasons.
Would adding Suh to this defensive line be nice in theory? Of course, the Jets could turn their biggest strength into the league’s most dominant pass rush. But it just isn’t necessary. Having the trio of Suh, Wilkerson and Richardson would be a luxury for a team still finding its identity. Extreme depth at this position simply isn’t needed.
Suh’s price tag would certainly reach over $10 million, and the Jets have bigger holes to fill in their depth chart. The Jets should look to add some cornerbacks, wide receivers, outside linebackers, and offensive linemen this offseason.
In a different situation, for a different team, Ndamukong Suh could turn a fringe playoff team into a true contender. But the Jets are still many pieces and possibly a few years away from contending for a Super Bowl. Suh is going to get paid this offseason, it just won’t be by the New York Jets.