Lions table Ndamukong Suh talks
ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- In the last few minutes before the Detroit Lions opened training camp Monday, the team eliminated the biggest question it has had all offseason.
The Lions announced they will table any contract discussions with defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh until after the 2014 season, the final year of his initial five-year rookie contract.
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"I think it's the right thing for us to do," Lions president Tom Lewand said Monday. "It's the right thing for the team. It's the right thing for everybody involved and it allows us to keep the focus where it belongs.
"I remain tremendously confident and Jim [Caldwell] said it [Sunday] in his press conference, we have a high degree of confidence that we can work out something that will be mutually satisfactory at the right time and the goal hasn't changed in the least."
That goal for Detroit is to sign Suh, who will have a cap number of $22.4 million this season, to a long-term contract after the season. Lewand and general manager Martin Mayhew have said in the past it is their intent to keep Suh in Detroit.
Suh talked with the media Monday after the Lions' first practice of the year, but mostly declined any questions about his contract situation other than to confirm he was not the one who suspended the talks.
He did say, though, that the Lions don't have to prove anything on the field to him when it comes to his contract.
"No, I don't think so. I think overall as a team we have to continue to prove our worth on this football and win [a] championship, win [a] division and go on after [a] championship," Suh said. "We want to prove to our fans that we have the talent and we're working hard."
Multiple players also said Monday that Suh's contract situation was not a distraction.
Mayhew said Suh has indicated he wants to remain in Detroit and Suh, in his one public news conference about his contract, said similar things. Mayhew said the team decided to table the talks within the past couple of weeks.
Lewand would not go into details as to why contract talks have stalled between the team, Suh and the defensive tackle's agent, Jimmy Sexton, and Mayhew pointed to the complicated nature of big contracts when asked the same question.
In February at the NFL combine, Mayhew said he felt a deal would get done with Suh close to the start of free agency. It did not.
"It's been a complicated process," Mayhew said. "I thought it would get done. At the combine I thought it would get done around the start of free agency possibly. After the draft, I thought probably by now. Now, I think probably next year."
Mayhew did say Monday he couldn't say for sure the team would reach a deal with Suh before he would hit the free-agent market in March.
With the multiple delays, Mayhew said he remains confident a deal will happen because "with good players, it takes a long time to get them done." However, Detroit reached a deal with quarterback Matthew Stafford before the beginning of the 2013 season.
Mayhew said the team has not had conversations about trading Suh, but said it would be possible the team would use the franchise tag on Suh if the sides can't finalize a deal.
"I just feel confident he's going to be playing for us next year," Mayhew said.
Both Mayhew and Lewand said they would not have handled the situation with Nick Fairley, declining his fifth-year option, differently had they known the Suh talks would take this long.
Suh was the No. 2 pick in the 2010 draft and has played in 62 regular-season games, making 185 tackles with 27.5 sacks.
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