Guys like Ndamukong Suh don't hit free agency often. The 28-year-old is in the middle of his prime during a career that could one day end in Canton.
There's a strong argument to be made that Suh is the best defensive free agent to hit the market since Deion Sanders did 20 years ago. We'd take Suh at this stage of his career over Mario Williams, Rod Woodson, Albert Haynesworth, Nnamdi Asomugha, Julius Peppers, Darrelle Revis and other big names that have been on the open market before.
A return to Detroit is not out of the question. The Lions have displayed a surprising amount of confidence in their ability to re-sign Suh, but their decision not to place the franchise tag on him will make it tougher.
So where will Suh land? Let's pick the most likely landing spots.
They have a boatload of salary cap room to spend and a need under new NFL rules to spend to the new salary cap "floor." They also have an owner and general manager that are desperate for a turnaround for different reasons. (GM Reggie McKenzie wants to keep his job. Owner Mark Davis would love to have a winner while the future location of his franchise is up for grabs.) Wouldn't Suh make sense continuing the tradition of renegade-Raiders defenders?
Suh has said publicly that he'll let his agent choose his next team. Like most players, he's going to the highest bidder. Unlike most players, Suh is honest about it. Oakland appears to be the most likely team to make Suh the richest defensive player in NFL history.
The Lions were boxed into a corner because Suh was drafted before the new collective bargaining agreement reduced rookie salaries. That meant that it was virtually impossible to keep Suh via the franchise tag, but it doesn't mean the Lions are out of the Suh mix. They will make an aggressive push to keep him, yet history shows that most players don't come back once they hit the open market. The Lions need to make their move before March 10.
The Bears know exactly how dominant Suh can be. They have a lot of cap room and a huge need at defensive tackle. They also have a brand new coach and general manager combo that could be ready to make a big splash.
Multiple reports have suggested the Jaguars will make a strong push for Suh. They have the money to make it work and the defensive coach in Gus Bradley to maximize Suh's potential.
San Diego Chargers
Ian Rapoport reported that the Bolts are preparing to make a run at Suh. The Chargers have the cap space (around $26 million) and would be an intriguing choice for the difference-maker. Defensive coordinator John Pagano runs a 3-4 and could view Suh as a movable piece along the line in the mold of J.J. Watt.