Pro-Bowler & Quarterback public enemy #1, Ndamukung Suh has just agreed in principle to sign with the Miami Dolphins for a record $114 million with $60 million guaranteed. This contract will give Suh the distinct title of highest paid defensive player in NFL history, with a yearly average of $19 million it surpasses the $16 million that is earned by 2-time defensive player of the year J.J. Watt.
The Detroit Lions made a strong offer to retain Suh but ultimately the Dolphins’ offer won the Suh sweepstakes. This is a huge blow to a Detroit team that has been fighting the past couple of years to try and become a consistent playoff contender.
Suh was a part of the last draft class under the old CBA which essentially meant that Suh was free to utilize his leverage to demand top dollar because top draft picks, prior to the issuance of the revamped CBA, were free to sign to whatever rookie contract that organizations were willing to offer.
As a matter of fact, from 2002 to 2007 the Detroit Lions drafted in the top ten paying top dollar for unproven players & here is the haul they ended up with.
02: Joey Harrington
03: Charles Rogers
04: Roy Williams
05: Mike Williams
06: Ernie Sims
07: Calvin Johnson
Not exactly a hall of fame group of guys here. Outside of Calvin Johnson, no other player has made a significant impact for the Lions organization (or any organization for that matter.) This doesn’t even account for the 0-16 season they had in ’08 or the 2-14 season that led to the selection of Suh. After the selection of Calvin Johnson, Lions front office management began to select solid players at the top the draft, including Matthew Stafford & Suh; but significant financial commitments from past draft picks (in particular the second contracts for Matthew Stafford & Calvin Johnson) made the Lions organization hesitant to offer the kind of money that the market was demanding for Suh’s services.
The Lions losing Suh shows the negative repercussions of the old CBA & how it affected some teams from retaining their great players from that era. Had Ndamukung Suh been drafted in 2011 the Lions could have had him at a fixed rate for
3 to 4 years before throwing the bank at him for the massive payday.
Instead they were forced to re-structure Suh’s massive contract last season just for them to be able to fill other team needs, fast forward a few seasons and now Suh is going to play for the Miami Dolphins. Tough break Detroit.
Think about it this way: An interesting piece in all of this calls us to consider the tax implications of Suh’s decision. The two possible alternative destinations for Suh (Oakland Raiders & Detroit Lions) both carry significant state income taxes. Had Suh signed with Oakland, 13.3% of his $114 million (over $15 million) would have been snatched by uncle Sam, and had he chosen to re-sign with Detroit that number comes closer to a $5 million price tag (4.25% Michigan state income tax). Florida on the other hand, is one of the handful of NFL states that do not impose a state income tax (Texas & Washington are the other two). Beyond the sunny weather and beautiful beaches, Suh made a seemingly savvy business decision, and will likely put the currency he would have otherwise had to pay, to good use!