The Rams reached an agreement with the defensive tackle on a one-year, $14 million deal on Monday, giving them another premier playmaker on a defence that has gone from good to great this offseason.
While Donald was the Defensive Player of the Year last season and a First-team All-Pro for three years running, Suh has a little bit to prove at his new stop.
After racking up 8.5 sacks in his final season with Detroit in 2014, the 31-year-old managed 15.5 sacks in total over three seasons in Miami, despite playing all 16 games each year.
Suh, however, still ranked top 10 in the NFL in total pressures on the defensive interior every season in Miami, according to Pro Football Focus, so it’s not as if he’s declining in a major way, as his raw stats might suggest.
Now paired with Donald, Suh’s job is likely to get much easier with opposing offences throwing more of their attention and double teams at his teammate.
Between them, the Rams are set up to wreak havoc with pressure up the middle to disrupt quarterbacks, and ball-hawks in the secondary to jump on errant passes.
Los Angeles went 11-5 last season with a middling defence that allowed the 19th-most yards per game (339.6) and 12th-most points (20.6.).
With defensive coordinator Wade Phillips now having new toys to work with, it’s fair to wonder if the Rams have closed the gap on the Super Bowl-winning Philadelphia Eagles to be a frontrunner at the top of the NFC.
For Suh, the one-year contract means he’ll have the opportunity to both contend for a title and build-up his value – potentially to the level it was in the offseason he signed with the Dolphins – before hitting free agency again.
The NFL star has been indicted by a Harris County grand jury on a felony charge of injury of the elderly, and as a result has a warrant out for his arrest, according to KHOU.com.
The alleged incident took place after the New England Patriots beat the Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl LI, with Bennett pushing a 66-year-old paraplegic NRG Stadium worker to get on the field as players were celebrating. Bennett’s brother, Martellus, was playing tight end for the Patriots in the game.
Bennett was told to use a different entrance for field access, but he instead pushed through security personnel, which included the 66-year-old woman.
The felony charge includes intentionally and knowingly causing bodily injury to a person aged 65 or older and carries with it a maximum of 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
News of the indictment comes a little more than two weeks after Bennett was traded from the Seattle Seahawks to the Philadelphia Eagles along with a 2018 seventh-round pick, in exchange for wide receiver Marcus Johnson and a 2018 fifth-round selection.
In August of 2017, Bennett had another brush with the law when he was involved in an incident in Las Vegas which saw him detained outside of a nightclub after the Conor McGregor–Floyd Mayweather Jr fight.
Police were looking for an active shooter and detained Bennett, who accused police officers of racially profiling him. The Las Vegas Police Department denied Bennett’s claims after an internal investigation.
As the final big domino to fall in free agency, Ndamukong Suh has the potential to be a difference-maker for whichever team he chooses.
Each team can offer Suh something, but they have their cons as well.
Let’s take a look at Suh’s potential fit with the three teams.
Free agent DT Ndamukong Suh’s visit to the #Raiders is now off, sources tell me and @MikeSilver. He’s back home and not likely to make a decision today. The #Rams made a strong impression on him, but he’s also considering the #Saints & #Titans. Nothing done yet.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) March 21, 2018
Los Angeles Rams
It’s hard to argue against the idea that the Rams make the most sense for Suh on paper.
If he were to pair with fellow defensive tackle Aaron Donald, who is arguably the greatest defensive player in the league, the Rams’ interior pass rush would be practically unstoppable.
Add to that the additions of cornerbacks Aqib Talib and Marcus Peters, alongside safeties Lamarcus Joyner and John Johnson, and the Rams could be a devastating force full of playmakers under defensive coordinator Wade Phillips.
Not only would Suh have the chance to contend for a Super Bowl, but he’d likely rack up plenty of stats with opposing offences having their hands full with Donald.
As far as building his value back up to where it was when he signed a six-year, $114.4 million contract with Miami in 2015, Los Angeles makes the most sense for Suh.
However, it would likely mean him leaving some money on the table in the short term due to the Rams’ current cap space situation, with them having around $28m left to spend and Donald’s mega contract extension looming.
#Rams source to me this am on @NdamukongSuh chances coming to LA: "The people here,"culture" we've established, LA itself, an opportunity to play nxt to another extremely dominant player, guys have excelled in Wade's system. We felt good after he canceled Oak. Now we sit & wait."— Josina Anderson (@JosinaAnderson) March 22, 2018
Offering Suh top-dollar should be of no concern for the Titans, however.
Even after the moves they’ve already made this offseason, Tennessee have around $38m left to play with in cap space. Plus, they have no state income tax, which may seem like a marginal benefit, but allows Suh to maximise his earning potential in the short-term.
And while there’s no Donald around to soak up attention and double-teams, Pro Bowl defensive tackle Jurrell Casey is a great consolation prize.
The downside would be Suh switching from his natural position in a 4-3 defence to a 3-4 in Mike Vrabel’s scheme – as he would in Los Angeles too.
And while the Titans are a playoff team, they’re perhaps a step below the Rams and maybe even New Orleans, with the NFC teams in more stable positions compared to Tennessee who are transitioning to a new head coach.
New Orleans Saints
The Saints appear to be third on Suh’s list and may even be out of the running, but they have their own draws.
For one, they’re right there with the Rams as championship contenders, and seem to check off all the boxes for a team capable of winning the Super Bowl – an established coach, a star quarterback and an improving defence.
That defence is also tailor-made for Suh, with New Orleans running a 4-3 system that would allow him to slot into his usual spot and wreak havoc alongside defensive end Cameron Jordan.
But the Saints are strapped for cap space, having just a little more than $2m available at the moment. They can always reshuffle to create the required space, but even after pulling off some gymnastics, New Orleans probably won’t be able to give Suh the same money that Tennessee can.
Regardless of where Suh ends up, his situation will immediately be better than what it was in Miami, where he never seemed to fit in.
Part of that was Suh’s own doing, but a fresh start should make a significant difference.