Defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh is the last member of the Detroit Lions' "big three" who is in need of a contract extension. Wide receiver Calvin Johnson got his extension in March 2012, while quarterback Matthew Stafford received his new deal in July 2013. Both deals helped free up some cap space, and both deals made sure that Johnson and Stafford remained with the Lions.
Now the Lions are trying to do something similar by getting Suh a new contract. Suh's $22.4 million cap hit for 2014 needs to be lowered, and in order to make sure he remains a part of this team going forward, a long-term deal needs to be worked out since he's only got one season left on his current contract.
Last year, the Lions were able to wait until July to finalize Stafford's new deal because they created cap room in other ways. Players were released, contracts were restructured and pay cuts were handed out to create enough room for the Lions to be quite active in free agency. Chances are we will see more things like that as the Lions work to create cap space this year, but getting Suh a new deal is an extremely important piece of the puzzle.
Waiting until July to get Suh a new deal would not be ideal, and Ian Rapoport reported on Tuesday that the Lions are planning to "start renegotiation talks when (Suh) hires an agent." Suh decided to change agents a couple weeks ago, and all signs point to him signing with Jay-Z's Roc Nation Sports. As noted by Joel Corry, it's possible that Suh could end up with an "arrangement" like Victor Cruz -- Jay-Z's half of the partnership takes care of the off-field marketing, while CAA (Tom Condon and Ben Dogra) handles the actual contract negotiations. (CAA, by the way, represents Stafford.)
So basically, as soon as Suh hires a new agent, expect contract negotiations to begin. The best-case scenario would be for the Lions to get something worked out before free agency begins on March 11 simply for the added cap space. If a deal isn't done before then, the Lions will have to once again get a bit creative to free up cap room.