This COVID-19 stuff is driving everyone crazy, myself included. I, like many others, have been self quarantined at home and after watching movies and “The Office” in its entirety for the fourth time this year, I find myself to be a little stir crazy. Which brings me to my topic today.
You know what the Lions didn’t have in 2019? A pass rush. I mean, it was really bad. Outside of Trey Flowers and the now gone Devon Kennard, nobody was getting home for the team in Detroit. So far the Lions have tended to the gigantic hole in the middle of the line left by the departure of Damon Harrison Sr. and A’Shawn Robinson by bringing in Danny Shelton and Nick Williams. But both of these guys specialize in run stopping. The Lions still need help getting to the quarterback.
The easiest thing to do would be to go out and get Chase Young in the draft. But that’s a strategy that’s going to have to rely on a lot of moving parts. The biggest domino that needs to fall is the Washington Redskins passing on him with the second overall pick. Unfortunately, everyone is predicting they take Young and it seems like a no-brainer.
But what if the Dolphins or Chargers trade up? More so, what if the Chargers try to jump the Dolphins. They’ll have trade partners with the Redskins, Giants and of course, the Lions. You’d need them to want to jump to number two. It just seems so unlikely, though. Especially with all the love Utah State quarterback Jordan Love has been getting. The Chargers might just let the Dolphins have Tua Tavovailoa and they’ll take Love. As of today, it seems the most likely outcome is that the Lions roll with Ohio State corner Jeff Okudah, especially after the Lions traded Darius Slay last week.
The other option to fix Detroit’s pass rushing woes is Jadeveon Clowney. Sure there are some others options like 38-year-old Cameron Wake who may or may not be retiring or maybe even former Viking Everson Griffen. The latter has reported interest from the Seahawks at the moment, though.
Clowney is a pipe dream. A very expensive pipe dream at that. Clowney reportedly wants $20 million a year. That’s a lot of lettuce, but the Lions do have it. According to Over The Cap, the Lions still have just over $30 million to play with still. Would they be willing to spend that on Clowney? Probably not. Not to mention the Seahawks have made Clowney a nice offer and there’s a silly rumor that the Titans have already signed him. Convincing him to come here would be pretty difficult. So where does that leave the Lions?
Maybe it’s the stir crazy talking, but maybe the Lions can get what they need from a familiar face. Maybe the Lions should look at bringing back Ndamukong Suh.
Alright, hear me out. Suh is not the defining end to the problem. Suh is a really good band aid and for a few different reasons. First, the Lions play in sort of a hybrid type of defense. They won’t call it a 3-4 or a 4-3. Half the time you have no idea what they’re doing out there. The Buccaneers, Suh’s last home, play a similar type. Suh thrived in that defense last year, posting a Pro Football Focus grade of 69.7.
While he’s no longer getting the type of sack numbers he used to get, Suh is still putting pressure on opposing quarterbacks. PFF graded him at 60.3 as a pass rusher in 2019. That’s not bad. Suh is at the point in his career where he can thrive most as part of an ensemble. He’s no longer the scariest guy in the game anymore. With that comes a discount, though.
Suh can’t really chase the money like he used to. His deal with the Buccaneers last season was just over $9 million. Here he is at 33 years old, he’s not going to be able to command that type of money this year. Perhaps he can get a deal similar to that of his constant counter part Gerald McCoy. The former third overall pick just signed with the Cowboys on a three-year, $18.3 million deal that’s set up in favor of the Cowboys. McCoy will count just $4.35 million against the cap this year. Then the contract’s dead money drops from $7 million to $3 million after the season, giving the Cowboys the out in case it doesn't work.
This is the same kind of deal the Lions can offer Suh to return to Detroit. It’s a low-risk deal that would give the Lions a super effective stop gap while they groom a guy they’ll get in the later rounds like Alabama’s Terrell Lewis or Utah’s Bradlee Anae.
To me, this is a great plan. The obvious question is whether or not Suh would be open to returning to Detroit. Suh left under a completely different regime back in 2015. Now that Slay is gone, there is nobody left on this defense that played with Suh in Detroit in 2014. Who’s going to help recruit him? Don Muhlbach? I just don’t know.
Then there’s the very recent and very public matter in which Darius Slay left the team and his issues with Matt Patricia. He has not been the only player to speak out on the Lions current staff either. Would Suh want to play for Patricia? Especially since in the past, Suh has been outspoken at times.
I doubt this ever comes to fruition, but it’s surely something the Lions should kick the tires on. Who knows, right? Crazier things have happened. After all, Suh did just buy a condo in Birmingham last year.