Detroit Lions: Trading Ndamukong Suh Not as Crazy as It Sounds

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Detroit Lions: Trading Ndamukong Suh Not as Crazy as It Sounds
Jim Mone

Per writer/scout Scott Bischoff, the Detroit Lions are toying with the possibility of dealing Ndamukong Suh

Insanity, right? Dealing an All-Pro defensive tackle who anchors your defense? Coming off arguably the most complete season of his career? How can you deal your defensive catalyst in the prime of his career?

As wacky as it sounds, there's just enough logic to pitch Suh's name during the draft. 

Suh has been the face of Detroit's defense since being drafted in 2010. The former first-rounder exploded in the NFL with 10 sacks his rookie season and created a fearsome pass rush for the Lions.  

He has also created negative headlines for personal foul penalties each season of his career. Some of these were deserved, and some others were blown way out of proportion. His reputation has gotten him in more trouble than he deserves, but his ability as a player speaks greater volumes. 

Suh is entering his contract year hungry for a monster deal. After paying franchise quarterback Matthew Stafford last offseason and superstar receiver Calvin Johnson in 2012, the Lions have one more star to pay. Detroit isn't working with lots of cap space, but general manager Martin Mayhew has made a habit of working through these situations. 

But the greatness Suh brings to the Lions is nothing we haven't seen before. Despite arguably being the best at his position, defensive tackles come in and out of the NFL often. It's the most replaceable position defensively. 

You don't pay athletes for the work they've done in the past, you pay them for what they're capable of in the future. That's not to suggest Suh is on the decline, but the last thing the Lions want to do is break the bank for an Albert Haynesworth-like situation.

As mentioned, Detroit signed Calvin Johnson and Matthew Stafford to major extensions. Johnson is a once-in-a-lifetime talent, and this offense can't survive without either of those players. Keeping those two in Detroit is mandatory.

While Suh is in his prime and makes everyone around him that much better, you have to question how much better. The Lions finished a disappointing 28th in the NFL last season with only 33 total sacks. They did finish a much-improved sixth place against the run (in total rushing yards allowed), but they didn't get to the quarterback as often as advertised, allowing teams to carve them up through the air (23rd in total passing yards allowed). 

Over the past few years under former head coach Jim Schwartz, the Lions focused on loading the defensive line. You can't survive on defense when your focal point is at the bottom half of production and the rest of the unit is lacking.

Moving Suh removes Detroit's star power, but there's still plenty of fire on the defensive line. Tackle Nick Fairley and defensive end Ziggy Ansah each have star potential when healthy, and Detroit possesses contributing role players in recovering defensive end Jason Jones and budding rusher Devin Taylor. 

Trading Suh will bring back a ton of value, likely a high first-round pick and other mid- to late-round picks. You can replace him with Pitt tackle Aaron Donald, move up for pass-rusher Jadeveon Clowney or even select fan-favorite receiver Sammy Watkins. 

The Lions have great depth on the line but still need help at linebacker, safety, and cornerback. They could address those options with their No. 10 pick, helping the balance of the defense. 

This isn't a plea begging for Suh to be traded. I am just suggesting the idea isn't as outlandish as one would think. President Tom Lewand has made note they want to keep Suh with the Lions, but other options should be kept in mind. 

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