Lions GM glad Ndamukong Suh deal won't be on books

Martin Mayhew chose to spin watching one of the NFL's best defensive players -- and the heart of his team -- walk out the door in free agency as a good thing.

The Detroit Lions' general manager told reporters Monday at the NFL Annual Meeting that he's glad the team won't have to pay the massive six-year, $114 million contract the Dolphins gave Ndamukong Suh.

"I think anytime you lose a quality player like that, especially in the short term, that is to your detriment," Mayhew said, per the Detroit Free Press. "I think in the long term, I think we're going to be glad we don't have that contract on our books. But in the short term, that's an issue."

In the short term, Mayhew plugged the hole by importing aging veteran Haloti Ngata in exchange for two draft picks. In the long term, he will have to replenish a defensive line that watched two former first-round picks walk away this offseason (Nick Fairleysigned with the Rams last month).

Mayhew is not alone in viewing Suh's record-breaking contract as an eventual albatross for any franchise. It would be difficult for a defensive player to live up to that sort of overbearing financial commitment.

Still, that the Lions weren't in a position to franchise tag one of the NFL's best players and use that leverage for a long-term deal is an indictment on a Detroit front office who bungled the situation years before Suh ever walked out the door.

"I think throughout the last, probably since we did Matthew (Stafford's) contract, whenever that was, we've always sort of been top heavy with a few guys out there," Mayhew said. "And then the thing about the franchise tag was continuing to kick the can down the road and restructure deals to make that happen and we want to get out of that situation at some point so that didn't make a lot of sense."

The Lions got out of paying Suh a massive contract that could have further crippled their cap, but the cost to the on-field product has yet to be determined. 

The latest Around The NFL Podcast recaps the inaugural Veteran Combine and discusses which star players were helped (and hurt) by free agency. Find more Around The NFL content on NFL NOW.

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