The first thing you must understand about Detroit and Ndamukong Suh is that the Lions have indeed had conversations with other teams about trading Suh. This is a fact. What is also true: It's been just talk and not even serious talk. Just a feeling-out of other teams to see what they would be willing to give up for Suh.
This means, quite simply, the Lions are covering their asses, just in case the worst happens. They are gauging interest, seeing what they might be able to get in terms of draft picks, while also not even coming close to pulling any trigger on a trade.
Several team officials believe that, for now, the Lions are just exploring what they could get for Suh in case their contract talks with him completely disintegrate.
"What the Lions are doing is standard operating procedure," one team executive said. "Just in case they don't think they can sign him, they're preparing for worst case. It's smart."
In other words, the Lions are doing their due diligence. They would be foolish not to.
And if they found some deal that actually made sense, they'd be smart to take it. Because Suh is too flammable on the field, and not enough of a leader off it, to be worth that kind of money.
That kind of cash—he currently takes up $22 million in cap space and is looking for a mega-contract—is what you pay quarterbacks. Not interior defensive linemen who can't maintain their self-control.
He becomes a free agent next season. The Lions should let him walk if they can't trade or pay him.
There are two important facts that must be stressed here. First, team officials that have spoken with the Lions believe strongly that the Lions and Suh will work out some sort of arrangement and that Suh will stay in Detroit.
Second, teams thinking of trading for Suh love his ability but do not trust him. At all. In fact, these officials explain, one of the reasons that the Lions might not end up trading Suh is that other teams are nervous about handing him a great deal of cash.
"Every team in football would love to have (Suh)," said one team official, "but his behavior on the field still makes teams nervous. There's a feeling that he has no self-control."
This is the Suh conundrum. The Lions don't want to pay him a massive amount of money because they aren't certain he's worth it. Teams thinking of trading for Suh feel the same.
I've been a critic of Suh in the past. He's a remarkable talent, a delicious combination of ferocity and skill, but he is also a fan of leg kicks, cheap shots and overall dirtiness. There is a feeling among league people that Suh, who has been fined more than $200,000 for various illegalities, cannot be controlled and doesn't understand the optics of his acts. Suh is, easily, the dirtiest player in football.
Most of all, the concern is that Suh isn't a winner.
The latest example of this is Suh not showing up for offseason workouts. The workouts are voluntary, but there isn't a great leader or winner in football that doesn't show up to them. Lions fans, quite the sensitive bunch, believe the criticism of Suh for not appearing at the workouts is a media invention. It's not.
Tom Brady attends voluntary workouts. Aaron Rodgers attends voluntary workouts. So does Peyton Manning. In fact, Manning never stops thinking about football. Neither did Jerry Rice, or most of the other legends and greats.
Suh is a captain beginning with a new coaching staff. This would have been the perfect time to make a positive impression on his new bosses. Instead, he decided to stay home. It's irrelevant that he could still show up to minicamp or training camp in shape. It's more about leadership. He's a captain, and captains are usually the men who set the examples.
Let's put it this way: Suh is in the same company as Cowboys backup quarterback Kyle Orton, who is also not attending voluntary workouts.
It's the extremists in football that win. The men who push themselves. The ones that lead. I know some stars have in the past not attended voluntary workouts, but the percentage that do is almost 100 percent. And don't tell me Rodgers attends solely because of a workout bonus. He'd be there regardless.
Players should be able to have time away from football once the season ends, and they do. Plenty. What the workouts do is tighten the bond between teammates. There are coaches in the NFL that feel the offseason workouts are one of the most important aspects of building team chemistry.
Suh not attending them is a statement about Suh. He's telling the Lions coaches, "Who cares if you're new? Suh does what Suh does."
Jim Caldwell basically responded that he'd like Suh at the workouts but understands why he isn't. Other teammates have said it's not a big deal. They are doing the last thing they should with Suh. They are placating him.
No one should be surprised if Suh is traded, but it continues to look like (for the moment) Suh and the Lions will work out some sort of deal. For the moment, that's how it looks.
Which is unfortunate for the Lions.
Mike Freeman covers the NFL for Bleacher Report.