Detroit Lions general manager Martin Mayhew held his annual end-of-season press conference on Thursday, and, as expected, Ndamukong Suh was the main topic of conversation. With Suh set to become a free agent in March, the Lions' top priority this offseason is to retain Suh, whether that's via a long-term extension or a different method.
A long-term deal would obviously be the easiest way to resolve the Suh situation, and Mayhew actually does sound pretty optimistic about where the Lions stand.
Mayhew said he had a good convo with Ndamukong Suh and looks forward to negotiations. "He wants to be here and we want him to be here."— Josh Katzenstein (@jkatzenstein) January 8, 2015
It's unclear if the Lions have already reopened negotiations with Suh's agent, but Mayhew seems well aware that the team is going to have to step it up from a money standpoint to get something done. Although Mayhew thinks playing for Jim Caldwell and going 11-5 this past season will help in the Lions' attempt to re-sign Suh, he knows that money is going to be a big factor. Does this mean that the Lions are basically going to hand Suh a blank check to make a deal happen? Not so much:
He did say of Suh: "At any cost? No, I wouldn’t say that. He certainly is a big priority for us ..."— Dave Birkett (@davebirkett) January 8, 2015
So, if the Lions are unable to get something done with Suh, could they really just place the franchise tag on him in order to keep him around for the 2015 season? Mayhew isn't ruling out any option at this point. This means that the Lions could theoretically franchise Suh and give him a one-year deal worth nearly $27 million for 2015. It would take some serious maneuvering to even make that feasible from a cap standpoint, but the Lions apparently have a plan in place where they would still have some extra room left over for other moves even if they franchise Suh.
Of course, franchising Suh is basically the last-resort option here, and Mayhew may simply be saying that it's an option to create some leverage. The reality is franchising Suh would make this offseason very difficult for the Lions since they would have so little flexibility. That's why they really need to get this whole Suh situation figured out before they turn their attention to everything else.
Mayhew said there is some urgency to Suh deal, or at least which way they are going, because it affects so many other decisions.— Tim Twentyman (@ttwentyman) January 8, 2015
Mayhew later added that the Lions "can do some things in free agency" no matter what happens with Suh, but his contract situation is really the big domino in their offseason plan. Once they figure out if he's getting a long-term deal, being franchised or simply walking, the rest of the pieces in the offseason puzzle will start to fall into place.