By Ashley Dunkak
CBS DETROIT – While plenty of questions linger about the Detroit Lions after the team stumbled to the end of the season by losing six of their last seven games, one of the more compelling story lines has been the future of infamous defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, who becomes a free agent after the 2014 season.
Lions general manager Martin Mayhew told reporters at the NFL combine that he expects a deal to happen.
“I think this will get done on the eve of free agency or the eve of the start of the new league year, which is when free agency starts,” Mayhew told ESPN. “Or some time shortly after the start of the new league year that will be a good timetable for it.
“If it doesn’t get done, we’re fine with that,” Mayhew continued. “We can create some space and we have some room under the cap and the cap went up a little bit, as you guys probably heard. There’s not going to be any type of setback or cap crunch or that type of thing if we don’t get something done with him in the near future. But I do expect something to get done with him.”
Free agency begins March 11, and at the moment Suh evidently does not have an agent, though he has been rumored to be signing on with Jay Z’s agency Roc Nation. Mayhew said that Suh has told him that he is narrowing down his list of potential agents. While Mayhew said he has not asked for specific names, he expects Suh to make a decision soon.
In the last year of his current contract, Suh represents the second-biggest cap hit of any player in the NFL in 2014. Suh is scheduled to earn $22,412,500 this season. Only Chicago quarterback Jay Cutler will earn more in 2014. Suh is one of just four defensive players in the top 15 this season. The next-highest defensive tackle on the list, Haloti Ngata, will earn $16 million from the Baltimore Ravens in 2014.
According to NFL.com, Mayhew also wants to get a deal done with another player who has spent his entire career in Detroit. Mayhew told reporters at the combine that he would not rule out using the franchise tag on tight end Brandon Pettigrew, who caught 41 passes for 416 yards in 2014 and is also renowned for his blocking ability.
Mayhew announced at the combine that kicker David Akers, defensive end Israel Idonije, linebacker Rocky McIntosh, guard Dylan Gandy and safety John Wendling will not be returning to the team.
The general manager also provided a health update on defensive end Ziggy Ansah, who had shoulder surgery for a problem Mayhew said the Lions knew about before taking Ansah as their first-round pick. Mayhew said the issue is not expected to hamper Ansah’s off-season workouts.