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The contract Miami is willing to give this guy is kind of nuts

The contract Miami is willing to give this guy is kind of nuts

Ndamukong Suh will be signing a 114 million dollar contract with the Dolphins today, with approximately $60M of that money guaranteed. Suh has often been compared to Reggie White, which makes some sense given that each player possessed rare a rare combination of size/strength/agility for any human being, and both were defensive linemen. Recently, Suh has been compared to White in another way, as some have referred to Suh as the best player to hit free agency since White.

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.]

PlayerPosYr N TmYr NYr N AVAge 9/1/YrN+1Yr N+1 TmYr N+1 AV
Ndamukong SuhDTDET20141728.7MIA7
Darrelle RevisCBNWE20141430.1NYJ10
Dashon GoldsonFSSFO20121129TAM4
Carl NicksLGNOR20112027.3TAM4
Nnamdi AsomughaCBOAK20101230.2PHI7
Vonta LeachFBHOU2010129.8BAL1
Albert HaynesworthDTTEN20081928.2WAS6
Tony GonzalezTEKAN2008933.5ATL9
Jared AllenDEKAN20071626.4MIN17
Alan FanecaLGPIT20071631.7NYJ13
Asante SamuelCBNWE20071527.6PHI13
Lorenzo NealFBSDG2007137.7BAL1
Adalius ThomasOLBBAL20061930NWE8
Steve HutchinsonLGSEA20051528.8MIN9
Muhsin MuhammadWRCAR20041432.3CHI6
Dana StubblefieldDTSFO19971727.8WAS3
Eric MetcalfPRSDG1997730.6ARI3
Kevin GreeneOLBCAR19961835.1SFO4
Chad BrownOLBPIT19961727.1SEA9
Lomas BrownLTDET19951433.4ARI9
Eric DavisCBSFO19951328.6CAR12
Deion SandersCBSFO19941428.1DAL4
Mel GrayKRDET1994334.5HOU0
Reggie RobyPWAS1994334.1TAM2
Chris HintonRGATL19931433.1MIN6
Deion SandersCBATL19931227.1SFO14
Greg MontgomeryPHOU1993329.8DET3

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.

  1. 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. []
  • Bryan Frye

    To be fair, Haynesworth was a fantastic player at the time. He looked like the best DT in a league that also had Richard Seymour, Pat Williams, Vince Wilfork, Kris Jenkins, and Kevin Williams, which is saying something. He went off the rails in Washington, but he looked like he was headed to Canton before that. Part of me wondered if he was trying to play his way out of a 3-4 scheme (while still keeping as much cash as possible) but was no longer any good once he finally left.

    • Agreed. In that sense, he has the edge on Suh, who is pretty clearly *not* the best interior defensive linemen in the NFL.

      • James

        Who would you say is – McCoy?

        Oh, now that I re-read what you wrote you said interior, so you must mean Watt.

  • jtr

    To be fair with Nicks, no one can predict a guy’s career being derailed by a staph infection. It did look like a bit of an overpay at the time, but I think being too harsh on that contract requires a bit too much hindsight.
    On a Suh-related note, I agree with Chase below that Suh is not the best interior lineman in the league, though he is now the highest paid one. However, Suh doesn’t play the exact same position as Watt and McCoy–Watt is mostly a 5-technique (and plays edge a lot in sub packages) while McCoy is mostly a 3-tech. Meanwhile, Suh is primarily a 1-technique (one-gap nose tackle). Could his contract be reflecting that teams value disruption from the nose more highly than from a position closer to the edge? I could see the argument that pressure from the middle does more to collapse the pocket and move the QB than pressure that’s closer to the edge. Likewise, a guy who blows up an A-gap against the run is more likely to tackle or redirect the RB than a guy who does it from one side, which will be the backside of the play about half the time. Just some food for thought…