I have been on the fence about seeing Ndamukong Suh in a Dolphins uniform for a few days now. Prior to that I was on the fence about the possibility of Suh being in a Raiders jersey this season! Several weeks…maybe even a few months ago…RaiderNation began getting excited about the possibility of Suh playing for the Silver and Black this season. I never really gave the idea much thought. In recent years the Raiders haven’t caught many breaks when it comes to football. It would be fantastic to see a superstar player like Suh terrorizing AFC West quarterbacks as a part of the Raiders organization. It would be fantastic to see Suh in a Raiders uniform, helping to bring back some respectability to the club. As I said I didn’t give it much thought at the time. The rumours continued among RaiderNation on Twitter, Facebook and other forms like the Raider Nation Podcast. As I listened and read more I began to believe there might just be a chance Suh could end up on the west coast next season playing for Jack Del Rio. That began to make me nervous. First of all the guy is a bit of head case….he takes some stupid penalties that end up hurting the team in the end. Maybe he would mature and not do some of the really dumb things….maybe he should keep that stuff in his playbook because he would be a real throwback to what being a Raiders play was all about. The more I thought about the situation the less concerned I became about his play/antics on the field. More and more I began to worry about how much money Suh was going to get from the Raiders. As I write this, his is apparently still negotiating contract terms with the Miami Dolphins, and league experts/insiders are saying he will end up being the highest paid defensive player in the history of the league. Which means a few million dollars over more than a couple of years. It means a lot cash. A lot. The biggest problem clubs in the NFL run into when dealing with superstar contracts is how much is too much? Having too much money tied up in one superstar limits how much money a club can use to surround that superstar with players good enough to help win a Super Bowl. It doesn’t always happen…in fact it rarely happens in the NFL. It rarely happens that one player on either side of the ball can guarantee a Super Bowl win. Teams eventually have to find players to fit under the salary cap…this is why players like Peyton Manning and Tom Brady seem to be forever re-structuring their own contracts so that the club can spread some of that money around for other players. The more I thought about Suh in a Raiders jersey the more I became worried about how his contract might handcuff the organization. When word leaked out that the Dolphins were the front-runners for Suh, I was actually a bit relieved. The Raiders need a lot of players at a lot of positions. Players that are better than the ones they have trotted out onto the field over the last decade. That costs money. Ndamukong Suh on the Raiders means a lot of money doesn’t go to helping a team that is weak all over. The Detroit Lions have Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson – both better at their position than anyone the Raiders have had in years. Johnson is arguably the best wide receiver in the game today and the Lions still didn’t do much with Suh in their line-up. The Lions couldn’t afford to pay Suh what his market worth is so they had to let him go. The Raiders need to be signing a lot of players in order to solidify their team before they run out and grab a superstar like Ndamukong Suh.
We are less than 24 hours removed from the NFL Free Agency period opening up yesterday and the Dolphins have yet to announce the Suh signing as official yet. It appears they will have to clear out some money by releasing players in order to fit Suh’s new contract under the salary cap. The Raiders had a ton of space this off-season under the cap, second only to the Jaguars. Meaning they went into the off-season with a lot of cash to spend on players. Having the money to spend doesn’t mean thing if it is spent unwisely. The Raiders need to be better for a long time in my opinion. Suh would make their defence better this season, and for at least some of his remaining contract. But that would probably be it. That isn’t good enough.
In the end, I would love to see Ndamukong Suh on the playing field in the silver and black wreaking havoc on opposing quarterbacks….but not at the cost it would take to bring him in.