How would Ndamukong Suh look in silver and black?
It’s possible the Raiders and their fans may soon find out.
Suh, the NFL’s most dominant defensive tackle, appears to be headed for the free-agent market that begins March 10 now that the Detroit Lions have declined to put the franchise tag on him.
The tag would have cost Detroit $26.8 million.
Suh is ranked as the No. 1 player available in free agency by Gregg Rosenthal and Chris Wesseling of NFL.com, in their assessment of the top 101 free agents of 2015.
“A double-team defeater against the run as well as the pass, Suh is on a Hall-of-Fame career path,” they wrote.
The 28-year-old former Nebraska star will be expensive, however. Suh has said he wants to be the league’s highest-paid defensive player, and his price tag likely will be higher than the six-year, $100 million contract signed by Texans defensive end J.J. Watt, wrote Kevin Patra of NFL.com.
The Raiders, however, are one of just a handful of NFL teams that can afford Suh. They also are a team that is intent on winning. Owner Mark Davis has a new coaching staff in place, led by Jack Del Rio, and general manager Reggie McKenzie has said he’s going to be aggressive in free agency.
The Raiders, coming off yet another losing season, could make huge strides this offseason by plugging Suh into their defensive front in front of second-year linebacker Khalil Mack, who showed in 2014 that he is a star in the making.
Rosenthal wrote this week, in assessing Suh’s likely landing spots, that the Raiders rank No. 1 on the list.
“They have a boatload of salary cap room to spend and a need under new NFL rules to spend to the new salary cap ‘floor,’ ” he wrote. “They have an owner and general manager that are desperate for a turnaround. …. Wouldn’t Suh make sense continuing the tradition of the renegade-Raiders defenders?”
Suh certainly has a reputation not only for being terrific, but also for being a renegade. In five seasons he’s been a Pro Bowler four times and first-team All-Pro four times and has missed just two games. He has 36 sacks, 238 tackles and 13 pass breakups. He also has been fined and suspended for unnecessary roughness on the field. According to Michael Rothstein of ESPN.com, Suh has lost $420,669 due to fines and suspensions.
NFL.com’s Rosenthal noted that Suh has said he’ll let his agent choose his team, so it’s going to come down to a money decision.
Wrote Rosenthal: “Oakland appears to be the most likely team to make Suh the richest defensive player in NFL history.”