Detroit Lions general manager Martin Mayhew met with the media at the NFL Combine on Wednesday, and, as expected, most of the questions he faced surrounded the future of defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh. With free agency less than a month away, Suh is on the verge of hitting the open market, and the Lions are trying to make sure that doesn't happen by signing him to a long-term deal.
As of Wednesday, is a deal with Suh imminent? It doesn't sound like it, but the Lions are maintaining their optimism that something will eventually get done.
Mayhew says negations with Suh are "not done" and they are "still very optimistic" about bringing him back. #Lions— Tori Petry (@sportstori) February 18, 2015
The source of the Lions' optimism seems to revolve around this notion:
Mayhew says Suh likes scheme, coaches, players. "We have a lot of the things he's looking for in Detroit."— Kyle Meinke (@kmeinke) February 18, 2015
If the Lions aren't able to get something worked out in the near future, they could decide to simply put the franchise tag on Suh. They are still considering that option, and that would all but guarantee his return next season considering he would suddenly get a $26.9 million payday for 2015. Chances are Suh would immediately sign that contract in order to guarantee his salary for next season, which would obviously keep him off the open market.
It remains to be seen how this situation with Suh will play out, but Mayhew confirmed that negotiations are currently taking place. He also made it known that the Lions are "prepared for what it takes financially to get (Suh) signed." In other words, money shouldn't be an issue when it comes to re-signing Suh.
If the Lions are unable to retain Suh, re-signing Nick Fairley would presumably become a top priority for the team. Fairley is clearly a secondary concern at this point, though.
Mayhew said no decision has been made yet on whether to pursue Fairley. Will meet with his agent, Brian Overstreet, in Indy.— Dave Birkett (@davebirkett) February 18, 2015
Interestingly enough, Mayhew admitted that there is a scenario where the Lions could re-sign both Suh and Fairley, and there is also a scenario where neither player is in Detroit next season. Envisioning the Lions' defensive line with neither Suh nor Fairley is frightening, but I suppose the Lions have to prepare for every scenario imaginable going into free agency.