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Caldwell: Lions re-signing Suh one of highest priorities

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Ndamukong Suh flashed a rare, raw flood of emotion following the Detroit Lions' playoff loss to the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday.

The display felt much like a politician after losing an election and added to the already looming prospect that the All-Pro defensive tackle played his last game in a Lions uniform.

Speaking on Monday, coach Jim Caldwell praised the lineman's importance to the Lions' No. 2 rated defense and declared the team's desire to keep Suh in Honolulu Blue.

"That will continue to be one of our highest priorities," Caldwell said.

The importance of Suh to Detroit's defensive dominance can't be overstated. He was the main reason the Lions finished the season with the No. 1 rated run defense (69.3 yards per game). The fifth-year pro, who turns 28 on Tuesday, earned 8.5 sacks on the season and added two more in Sunday's playoff game.

"He's a dominant, dominant player who we benefit from having his services," Caldwell said, per the Detroit Free Press. "... He's quite a player."

Due to contract restructuring, it would cost the Lions $26.7 million to apply the franchise tag on Suh, making it virtually certain he'll hit the open market in March. NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport has reported that there is interest from both sides to strike a deal, but the team will likely let him test the market.

Suh has already stated his agent will decide where he plays next, meaning he's likely to top J.J. Watt's six-year, $100 million contract signed this season.

Whether the Lions -- with Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson already on huge contracts -- can keep their defensive centerpiece will be a storyline we will track closely over the next few months.

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