DETROIT (AP) — The Detroit Lions have been negotiating with Ndamukong Suh in the hopes of signing him to a long-year deal before he potentially becomes a free agent next year.
The talks, according to team president Tom Lewand, have been relatively good.
“They’re more on the civil and productive side of the spectrum,” Lewand told season-ticket holders on Monday night.
The two-time All-Pro defensive tackle is entering the last season of his contract. Lewand insisted it doesn’t matter when a deal gets done with him even though he is scheduled to count more than $20 million against the salary cap this year and a new deal could be restructured to give the team some relief.
“The timing is less important than the outcome,” Lewand said. “And as long as the outcome is right both for Ndamukong and for us then I think he can be a part of the core of our team for a long time.”
Suh changed agents during the offseason, hiring Jimmy Sexton to handle his contract talks with the Lions. Lewand sounded optimistic that an agreement will eventually be reached with Suh, who Detroit drafted with the No. 2 pick overall in 2010.
“It’s been my experience over the years that when a player says he wants to be here and we indicate that we want him around we have a good track record,” Lewand said.
Under first-year coach Jim Caldwell, the team began having voluntary workouts last week. And so far, Suh has not shown up.
“We’d like to have him every minute of every single day,” Caldwell acknowledged.
Caldwell, though, said Suh is a thoughtful individual who has his life planned out.
“I’ve probably talked to him more than any other player from the time I got the job,” he said.
Detroit defensive coordinator Teryl Austin says Suh is “worth every penny,” because he can disrupt what offenses want to do in the passing and running game.
Lewand, Caldwell and Austin were among the Lions employees who shook hands with season-ticket holders seated on the turf at Ford Field, as they walked toward a stage for a gathering that lasted an hour and included some questions submitted from fans.
“We promise we’re going to give you some football worth supporting,” Lewand said.
The Lions haven’t done that much over the years.
They were 7-9 last year, leading to coach Jim Schwartz getting fired a season after flopping to a 4-12 season following the franchise’s only postseason appearance this century. Since winning the NFL title in 1957, Detroit has one playoff victory.
“I’ve been through so much losing as a season-ticket holder for 25 years and I’ve heard enough of the rah-rah stuff,” said Jim Stachowski, a 64-year-old resident of Warren, Mich. “I just want to see some ‘Ws’ from these guys.”
Lewand said when Caldwell met with his players for the first time last week, one of the messages shown on a big screen was: “Win and win now.”
The Lions have tried to show their sense of urgency by signing free agents such as wide receiver Golden Tate and safety James Ihedigbo to address needs and by re-signing some key players, including running back Joique Bell, tight end Brandon Pettigrew and center Dominic Raiola.
They have the No. 10 pick overall in next month’s draft and possibly could move up to select South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney or receiver Sammy Watkins, a name that got a roar from the crowd when it was mentioned. When Sheldon White was asked if Clowney will come to town for a visit, the team’s vice president of pro personnel said he would “pass” on answering the query.
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