Ndamukong Suh may soon add a marquee name to a free agent market that seems to be lacking them, at least aside from the quarterbacks.
A person familiar with the situation told USA TODAY Sports’ Mike Jones on Monday that a divorce from Suh, the Miami Dolphins’ star defensive tackle, is “likely to happen” by Wednesday when the NFL’s new league year begins. The person spoke on condition of anonymity due to the fluidity of the situation — one component being that Miami is currently several million over the salary cap and must be in compliance by 4 p.m. ET Wednesday.
Suh, 31, is presently the highest-paid defensive player in the league in terms of average salary ($19.06 million) and is halfway through a six-year deal worth more than $114 million. However, he has not had an all-pro season for the Dolphins, who haven’t finished in the top half of the league in terms of points allowed since his arrival.
Suh hasn’t necessarily played poorly, though he’s averaged only five sacks for the Dolphins. But he’s played for four coordinators in his three seasons in South Florida and stopping him has been a focal point given for opposing offenses the general lack of playmakers around him.
A fresh start could be beneficial for all parties. With that in mind, here are nine parties (listed alphabetically) Suh could strongly consider joining:
Cleveland Browns: Despite a very active weekend on the trade front, they’ve still got more than $75 million in cap space — and a huge hole in the middle of their defense after exporting Danny Shelton to New England. Though Cleveland is coming off a winless campaign, a significant turnaround may not be far off. Suh and coordinator Gregg Williams seem to have the makings of a good marriage.
Dallas Cowboys: Jerry Jones covets a defensive “war daddy,” and Suh surely qualifies. Most NFL players drool at the thought of joining America’s Team, though Jones would have to free up sufficient funds for this kind of move.
Indianapolis Colts: Few defenses are in more dire need of talent (Indy ranked 30th overall and in points allowed in 2017), yet not many general managers have the spending power of Chris Ballard, who has about $75 million at his disposal.
Los Angeles Chargers: Imagine putting Suh between rush ends Melvin Ingram and Joey Bosa. The Bolts, who had the AFC’s worst run defense last year, clearly need the help inside.
New York Jets: No team has more cap space (more than $90 million). Even if the Jets successfully recruit Kirk Cousins, there should be plenty left over for Suh, who could form a nice tandem with Leonard Williams on a D-line suddenly in need of reinforcement.
Oakland Raiders: They desperately need someone to take pressure off Khalil Mack up front. Suh not only has the classic Raider persona, he might be willing to take a backloaded deal that would allow him to leverage one perk of playing in Las Vegas — no state income tax.
Philadelphia Eagles: The champs don’t currently have the cap space or need for Suh. But Howie Roseman is among the most daring and creative GMs and might have to mull reuniting Suh with coordinator Jim Schwartz, for whom he played so menacingly in Detroit. Suh would surely have to take a shorter and/or less lucrative deal to come, but few places can offer this kind of opportunity to get the Super Bowl ring he lacks.
Seattle Seahawks: They’re busy clearing cap space but, after trading defensive end Michael Bennett, could lose Sheldon Richardson to free agency. Suh would be a fresh anchor inside and might enjoy playing near his Portland, Ore., home.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: They ranked dead last in total defense last season. Suh and Gerald McCoy would form a devastating combo inside, and the Bucs have the money (nearly $70 million) to make it happen … not to mention the enticement of remaining in Florida, where Suh doesn’t owe state income tax.