By Ashley Dunkak
@AshleyDunkak

CBS DETROIT – When star defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh signed an offer from the Miami Dolphins that made him the most highly paid defensive player in the NFL, many believed – and still believe – Suh left the Detroit Lions in part because he did not like the city or the organization.

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In an interview with Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press, Suh insisted his decision was strictly business. Birkett spoke about Suh’s departure with 97.1 The Ticket hosts Doug Karsch and Scott Anderson. Birkett noted that while ties to local business people made it tough for Suh to leave, the money was always going to be the deciding factor once his contract with Detroit expired.

“Once it got to free agency, the Lions were never going to be the highest bidder; [Dolphins owner] Stephen Ross was going to make something happen,” Birkett said. “[Suh] was going to take the money. He had to take the highest bid, that’s how he always looked at it, and the Lions were never going to be the highest bidder, so from that standpoint it just was not going to work out for both parties.

“At the end of the day, Ndamukong Suh is more than a football player,” Birkett continued. “He’s more a businessman playing football, and from that standpoint, I think that’s why he wanted that five-year contract instead of that six-year contract to begin with so he could get to free agency so he can make more money, so he can go about building some of those other relationships … I think those relationships are important to him, and I think in Stephen Ross with the Miami Dolphins he saw somebody that can help him in that regard as well. I think that was an important component of this entire decision.”

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The Lions tried to lock up Suh before the start of the 2014 season but tabled negotiations so talks – and constant questions from the media about them – would not be a distraction for Suh or other players. The Lions ultimately offered Suh a deal worth $102 million over six years, with $58 million guaranteed, but the team was not willing to give him that before last season.

“They did not make the offer that they made here late last year at a time when they could have wrapped him up,” Birkett said. “They were offering defensive tackle money. Ndamukong Suh wanted to be the highest-paid defensive player in the game money. That wasn’t going to happen. There was a gulf that they could not bridge in contract talks.

“Their offer at the end of the day, it was not as much money as Miami’s and it was not structured like Miami’s, and I think those two things weighed in the Dolphins’ favor,” Birkett added, “but the Lions made a very competitive offer until other circumstances.”

 

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