Peyton Manning, of course, was a free agent a mere two years ago, but let’s not let facts get in the way of narrative. Suh was named a first-team All-Pro by the Associated Press last year; as it turns out, 25 players were so named between 1992 and 2014, and then switched teams the following offseason.
The table below shows all 25 players. Here’s how to read it. Suh is a defensive tackle, and his last year in Detroit was in 2014 (i.e., Year N). That season, he recorded 17 points of AV according to PFR. As of September 1st of 2015 (i.e., Year N+1), Suh will be 28.7 years old. His new team is Miami, and the final column shows how many points of AV each player produced in his first season with a new team.
[Note: This table was updated after the 2015 season.]
|Player||Pos||Yr N Tm||Yr N||Yr N AV||Age 9/1/YrN+1||Yr N+1 Tm||Yr N+1 AV|
The last player before Suh to switch teams after being named a first-team All-Pro by the Associated Press was Dashon Goldson, a move that worked out for none of the parties involved. The same could be said of Carl Nicks, the last star before Goldson to switch, who also has failed to help turn around the Bucs. Go back a year earlier and you get Nnamdi Asomugha, which…. okay, well the last big star before that was Albert Haynesworth, and now I have lost every Dolphins fan on the planet.
Ironically, this query excludes both Manning and White, neither of whom were named All-Pros in their final seasons with the teams that drafted them.1 But it does include Deion Sanders twice, and a pair of great players who left Kansas City via trade.
At this point in his career, is Suh really viewed better than Haynesworth was in ’09? He was coming off back-to-back All-Pro years, like Suh (in fact, he’s the last player pre-Suh to switch teams after earning such consecutive honors), and was the same age. And a certain future NFL GM noted at this time six years ago that if “Haynesworth makes it to the market, he will be the biggest free agent since Reggie White in 1993.”
For what it’s worth, there’s a chance Suh won’t even be the best player to switch teams this year, at least if Darrelle Revis moves on from New England (reasonable minds could differ as to whether Suh or Revis is the better play). [This was included in the 2016 update.]
But Suh is certainly in the pantheon of great players to leave via free agency, with Deion and Peyton and Reggie and Revis (last year, at least). But, at least based on AV, that list also includes Nicks, Haynesworth, and Adalius Thomas, too.
- Manning missed the entire year due to injury, while White was “only” a Pro Bowler with the Eagles in ’92. Although it’s worth noting that both the Pro Football Writers and the NEA selected White to their first-team, while the AP had him on their second line. [↩]