Waiting this late to sign a free agent is supposed to net NFL teams bargains. The Buccaneers didn’t get any discount from Ndamukong Suh.
The Buccaneers are guilty of overpaying a defensive tackle named Ndamukong Suh. The former Rams defensive tackle definitely fills a need for Tampa Bay, but there was no reason to hand him such a generous one-year contract at this point in free agency.
Adam Schefter is reporting that the former Rams defensive lineman could earn as much as $10 million this season if certain incentives are met. At the very least, Suh is going to earn $9.25 million if he manages to stay on the roster for the entire regular season.
That’s a lot of money for a 32-year-old who really didn’t play well during the regular season for the Rams in 2018.
Proponents of the signing will correctly point out that the Buccaneers had a massive hole to fill on their defensive line. Then again, it was a weakness of the team’s own making.
Tampa Bay’s decision to cut Gerald McCoy instead of paying his $13 million salary in 2019 left the team short of options along their defensive front.
In a vacuum, McCoy is a better player than Suh, but it’s reasonable to believe the Buccaneers believe Suh will be a better fit in the three-man front they wish to employ this season.
Suh has been a defensive tackle for most of his career, but look for him to play a lot of defensive end this year in Tampa Bay. He’s got the size to hold up against the run out on the edge and the explosiveness to generate a reasonable amount of pass rush.
In contrast, McCoy is a tackle who is much better suited to play in a four man front. His ability to knife into the opposing backfield and make plays is what makes him special. McCoy was going to struggle to produce $13 million of value playing out of position for the Buccaneers this season.
Even if Suh proves to be an upgrade because of his scheme fit, there was no reason why Tampa Bay needed to pay him such a rich one-year salary. This year he’ll be the 15th-highest paid defensive tackle in football.
It’s highly unlikely that he’ll provide the Buccaneers enough production to match that contract. He’s simply too inconsistent.
Even if he does play up to the one-year deal, Tampa Bay’s decision only to give him a one-year deal eliminates any possibility of them realizing any upside.
Their front office clearly believes it’s safer to keep Suh motivated with a one-year deal, but if he plays well this season he’ll likely find a big payday with a contender next summer.
The real failure for the Buccaneers here is paying Suh so much money when he clearly didn’t have any other quality options. He was losing leverage every day, but Tampa Bay still elected to pay him like a premium player.
It’s not a move that will hamstring the Buccaneers moving forward, but it’s still a poor use of cap space by the franchise this season.