By 4:00 p.m. eastern time today the Detroit Lions could look like a team headed in two totally different directions.
The decision to franchise tag all-pro defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh before the tagging deadline looms deep and presses hard. We’ve all heard the debates. Keep him or let him walk. Immense pros and cons for both pathways. However, has any of us really thought about what this would mean to the franchise’s future ambitions?
In my opinion, this could be the single biggest decision in Lions history, maybe even Detroit sports history period. A few others that come to mind: Pistons drafting Isiah, Wings drafting Yzerman, the Lions hiring Matt Millen, the Tigers signing Ivan Rodriguez. The signing or failure to sign of Ndamukong Suh could trump them all.
The most perplexing part of it all, for me, is that I’m still not sure what in the hell the Lions front office should do. For one, I feel that letting Suh walk into free agency will be more or less his last “sack” as a Detroit Lion. As it seems, he doesn’t want to sign a long term deal in Detroit and the chances of him testing the waters and coming out of it a Lion are very faint. So franchise tagging him is the alternative choice to keep him around for, in my mind, the largest winning window in team history next season.
Ah, but what a cost keeping him around would be. 26.9 million one dollar notes to be exact. The largest monetary total for a single tag in league history. An obscene amount of cap space for one man.
I guess the ultimate question comes down to this: Do I truly trust Martin Mayhew and Tom Lewand to use the freed up cash to put together free agent transactions and draft picks that would mitigate, if not make righteous the decision to part ways with Suh? That is the uncertainty that raptures my soul. I’m sure yours as well.
We won’t know until next season if the decision made today was the right one or the wrong one. We could sign him and regress, we could sign him and win a Super Bowl. We could win one Suh-less, with a bunch of prized acquisitions or we could feel the loss of him dearly with a return to Lions mediocrity that the city of Detroit knows all too well. We just don’t know.
The Lions front office is in full control of the franchise’s fate today. Their one decision to give one man a fortune for one season or let him walk and never return, either way, will be discussed in Detroit sports lore for the remainder of our lives and well past it.
The clock is ticking.