When Gerald McCoy signed a seven-year, $95.2 million deal this past season, he set new records for a deal for defensive tackles. And rightly so, as McCoy is the best defensive tackle in the NFL -- yes, he's better than Ndamukong Suh. And yet, Ndamukong Suh is set to receive a deal that shatters' McCoy's previous record. ESPN's Chris Mortensen reports that the former Lion will get a staggering $114 million with $60 million in guaranteed money from the Miami Dolphins over a total of six years, once free agency officially starts.
That gives Suh a whopping $19 million per year, and $20 million per year over the first three years. Compare that to McCoy, who received just $13.5 million per year in his seven-year deal. Not only does Suh shatter the record for defensive tackles, he's also shattering the record for defensive linemen in general. He's well above J.J. Watt's $16.6 million, and Mario Williams' $16 million per year.
This obscene contract is even more stunning because, while Suh has been good, he has been nowhere close to the defense-changing force he'd have to be to justify this kind of pay. Suh has just 36 sacks in five seasons, although that stat undersells his play a little. Pro Football Focus notes that Suh's play improved this past year, but it's still not close to J.J. Watt's, and still a notch behind the more-dispruptive McCoy's.
Suh does have one leg up on McCoy: he has no history of injuries, having only missed games due to suspensions. That's the one area where you could justify paying him more than the Bucs defensive tackle. Availability is important -- but it's not worth the ridiculous difference in pay between these two players.
Suh's contract also makes the reports that the Bucs would go after him look absolutely ludicrous. With all of the holes the Bucs have and the strength at defensive tackle, there's simply no chance they could have paid Suh anywhere close to $20 million per year. It would have meant spending 25% of their entire salary cap on defensive tackles. That was never going to happen.
Suh's contract is a solid reminder of what happens in free agency, though. If you want highly-coveted players, you have to overpay. By a lot. And that's exactly what the Dolphins did. And that's exactly what the Bucs are going to have to do, if they want to compete for someone like Mike Iupati or Devin McCourty.
Meanwhile, though, the Bucs walk away with a better defensive tackle for significantly less money, because they were smart enough to extend him before he could hit the market. Drafting quality players and extending them still remains the most cost-effective way to build your team, and structuring their contracts so you're not stuck with a $27 million franchise tag in the end helps, Lions.