Ndamukong Suh to sign with Fins

ByChris Mortensen ESPN logo
Monday, March 9, 2015

Barring a breakdown in formal contract negotiations, Ndamukong Suh will sign with the Miami Dolphins after the new league year begins Tuesday for a deal that will pay him approximately $114 million with $60 million in guaranteed money, league sources told ESPN.

The Dolphins and Suh's agent Jimmy Sexton discussed those six-year parameters once the 72-hour window opened Saturday for dialogue between teams and unrestricted free agents, sources confirmed.

While Suh's former team, the Detroit Lions, were among the teams making competitive proposals, the Dolphins' parameters far exceeded the rest of the clubs interested in the defensive tackle.

The official proposal and contract, which would make Suh one of the NFL's highest-paid players, must be negotiated when the market opens at 4 p.m. ET Tuesday.

Based off the parameters, Suh will get $60 million in the first three years on a contract that is expected to average $19 million over the six years of the deal, sources said.

A league source told ESPN.com that Detroit's offer to Suh was $17 million per year with $58 million guaranteed -- a deal that would have still made Suh the highest-paid defensive player in the NFL.

Florida doesn't have any state income tax, so in order for the Lions and the Raiders to match the after tax net earnings on a $60 million guarantee, the Lions would have had to pay Suh approximately $64.9 million and the Raiders would have had to pay $70.1 million, said sports tax specialist Robert Raiola, senior manager at the accounting firm O'Connor Davies in New York.

Suh has to pay federal income tax as well as some so-called "Jock Taxes" for the days he works in a city while playing. Suh's net earnings on the assumption of $60 million guaranteed will come out to about $34.7 million, Raiola said.

J.J. Watt of the Houston Texans set the market in 2014 when he signed a six-year, $100 million contract with $51.8 million in guaranteed money.

Watt's average of $16.7 million was the highest in league history for a defensive player, a considerable amount considering he still had two years remaining on his contract with Houston.

The Miami Herald had characterized the Dolphins as "confident" they would sign Suh, primarily because owner Stephen Ross was determined to land the big prize of the 2015 free-agency class.

Several other media outlets, including ESPN, had identified the Dolphins as the favorite to sign Suh.

The Lions decided against using the franchise tag on Suh, as doing so would have cost the team close to $26.9 million to tie him up for the 2015 season.

Detroit had such a high number on Suh's franchise tag option because of contract restructures that left him with a cap number of $22.4 million for the 2014 season.

With the Lions, Suh was a dominant force in the middle for five seasons, making the Pro Bowl four times and being named first-team All-Pro three times. He played in 78 of 80 regular-season games for Detroit while making 238 tackles with 36 sacks, 13 pass breakups, two forced fumbles, a fumble recovery and an interception.

Suh is one of the most dominating talents in the game but has a history of being fined for player-safety violations. The only two games Suh missed in his career were due to a suspension after stomping on then-Green Bay offensive lineman Evan Dietrich-Smith. Suh was initially suspended for Detroit's playoff game against Dallas this season before his suspension was overturned and replaced with a $70,000 fine for stepping on the calf and ankle of Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers.

In all, Suh has lost $420,669 due to fines and suspensions.

ESPN.com's Michael Rothstein and Darren Rovell contributed to this report.

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