Moore: Why I think Seahawks should go after free-agent DT Ndamukong Suh
Everyone is focusing on the wrong area of need on the defensive side of the ball for the Seahawks. I keep hearing how they need another edge rusher to go with Frank Clark, and I think, wait a minute, they recorded 43 sacks last year, tied for 11th in the league. That’s above average and only nine sacks below the NFL-leading Chiefs and Steelers.
Where they really need help is with their run defense.
Last year the Seahawks tied for last in the league with Arizona, Kansas City and Atlanta, allowing a whopping 4.9 yards per rushing attempt. When this defense was at its best, no one could run on them, and now everyone does.
That’s why I feel like they should pursue free agent Ndamukong Suh, even if he’s got a sputtering motor. Maybe he’ll rev up his motor with a change of scenery playing for Pete Carroll in his native Northwest – he grew up in Portland. Plus the longer it goes without the unrestricted free agent being signed, the cheaper it will be to get him.
I’ve been told that my reasoning is flawed, that Suh played on a Rams’ defense that last year gave up chunks of yardage on the ground and were sliced up specifically by the Seahawks in two games. And that attitude of taking plays off won’t cut it in Seattle. In Los Angeles, it barely did – defensive coordinator Wade Phillips basically had to beg him to play harder at times.
You could also argue that the Seahawks don’t need a 32-year-old defensive lineman who is past his prime in a developing locker room of younger players. Plus what if his less-than-stellar approach of not working hard is a bad influence on the other defensive linemen?
I might lose this debate with you, but I’d go down swinging. In my mind, there’s precedent. When the Seahawks drafted Malik McDowell two years ago – before the ATV accident ended a career that never even got started here – there was talk of his inconsistent motor. That surprised me because the Seahawks always preach that players need to be “All In,” and McDowell didn’t seem to fit the profile.
Suh doesn’t either in that respect, but I like the idea of bringing him in and giving it a whirl anyway. Besides, he fits John Schneider’s history of talent acquisition – the Seahawks general manager likes to take calculated chances with former first-round draft choices who never quite became as good as the team that drafted them thought they would be. In Suh’s case, he actually has had considerable success, mostly in Detroit, and here’s the other thing. Remember when former Seahawks coach Jim Mora said he was looking for “dirtbags?” Suh might be the dirtiest dirtbag of all, fined seven times and suspended once by the NFL.
The two-game suspension occurred eight years ago when Suh pushed Green Bay offensive lineman Evan Dietrich-Smith’s head into the ground three times and stomped on his arm.
His fineable offenses happened in the past, and even if there are some nasty remnants to his game, wouldn’t you tolerate a flare-up or two if you got the kind of play from a lineman who was once judged to be so dominating at Nebraska that the Lions drafted him No. 2 overall? Suh also would complement Jarran Reed’s inside pass rush – in the NFC Championship against the Saints, Suh had 1 1/2 sacks.
But I get it, if you said the Seahawks are pretty well set at defensive tackle, I could be talked into agreeing with you. The top argument you’d have going for you is mentioning Poona Ford, the rookie from Texas who played well at the end of last season. The Seahawks also added a free agent in Jamie Meder from Cleveland over the winter, and he could help the run defense and a defensive-tackle rotation that also includes Reed and Quinton Jefferson. I would include Naz Jones, but his less-than-impactful play last year indicates that he’s more on the fringe now.
The run defense could also benefit from a full season with linebackers K.J. Wright, who played in just five games last year because of injuries, and Mychal Kendricks, who could be a huge upgrade if he avoids jail time for insider trading. His sentencing date is April 4.
But one last reason why I like the idea of signing Suh – the Seahawks will get him on the cheap. Free agency started two weeks ago, and he’s still unsigned. You’d think a guy of his ability would be gobbled up by now, but he’s available at what we can now assume will be a bargain price. He has made more than $138 million in his career, including $14 million last year with the Rams.
Don’t you think he’s in a position now to accept somewhere in the neighborhood of $6 million to $8 million for the 2019 season? If that’s the case, keep in mind that’s the same type of deal the Seahawks gave to offensive lineman Luke Joeckel two years ago. And I know, some wise guy in the anti-Suh camp, I hear you, you’re asking me how that Joeckel deal worked out. Not well, wise guy, not well at all. But I prefer to look at players on an individual basis and refuse to draw any correlations to the past.
John Clayton is an expert on NFL matters and says no one should expect a signing of Suh in Seattle, but I’m going to hold my breath anyway and wait for a move I think the Seahawks should make happen.
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