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2018 NFL Free Agency

Saints Want Ndamukong Suh For the “Right Price” — But Do They NEED Him?

Want vs. Need. In NFL Free Agency every year, teams go into the annual process wanting to target players with expiring contracts, with the hope and intention of luring them to come and play for their franchise. But signing that specific player usually comes with a caveat: which is that does that player fit, fill, plug up, or address a certain team "need" (?)

In the case of the Saints' pursuit of free agent defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh in the past 48 hours, some 'Who Dats' have openly questioned whether or not the 8-year NFL veteran (who will play in his 9th NFL season in 2018) actually qualifies to meet that standard.

As you're probably aware if you're a fan of the Saints:

Suh came to New Orleans on late Friday night (which allegedly included dinner at famous New Orleans chef Emeril LaGasse's self-titled restaurant in downtown New Orleans on Tchoupitoulas Street), to visit the Saints all day yesterday.

He was even spotted having breakfast at the Ritz-Carlton hotel in downtown New Orleans (where he stayed overnight) with Saints head coach Sean Payton.

But after his visit was complete, Suh reportedly left town to visit the Tennessee TitansJordan Schultz of Yahoo! Sports reported late last night that Suh was headed to Nashville to meet with Titans brass later today (Sunday); before returning back to his hometown of Portland, Oregon where he can sit down and evaluate his options with his family, according to the report.

Suh, 31, was released this past week by the Miami Dolphins after three years there. The 6-foot-4, 315 pound Suh was originally drafted in the 1st round of the 2010 NFL Draft by the Detroit Lions after his All-American college playing career at the University of Nebraska.

Photo courtesy of The Miami Herald

He is still generally considered by most as the #1 nose tackle in Pro Football, despite having played in the League for nearly an entire decade.

For his career, Suh has played in 126 total games (he's only missed 6 games in his entire career); and has recorded 51.5 sacks, 419 total tackles (289 of them solo), 28 passes defensed (or "batted down"), 4 forced fumbles (2 recovered) and one 2-point safety.

But despite all of those accolades, some Saints fans are very apprehensive about the Saints signing him for 2 reasons; which are: 1) How much will he cost and would signing him leave New Orleans "broke" under the salary cap; and 2) his not-so-sterling reputation that he has earned in previous years as a player with anger issues and a label of "playing dirty".

Photo courtesy of The Associated Press

Suh's 6-year, $114 million deal that he signed with the Dolphins in 2015 NFL Free Agency 3 years ago had become a nightmare for the Miami front office, something that was expected when he signed the deal prior to the 2015 season.

Based on how it had been structured, there was little chance Suh would ever see the end of the deal; and that became the main reason which eventually prompted his release earlier last week.

According to Business Insider: the Dolphins basically had two options: 1) restructure the contract again, with another big signing bonus (he got $20 million the first time) up front and likely having to add two years to the deal to spread out the cap hits (Suh would have been 33 in the final year of the contract); or 2) release Suh.

With none of the remaining years on Suh's contract guaranteed — standard operating procedure in the NFL — the decision was probably an easy one, despite still being one of the best players in the NFL.

In the end, he received $60 million for his three seasons of work in Miami.

So how much would he cost New Orleans to sign him?

Suh, a 5-time Pro Bowler and a 3-time All-Pro, is now said to be looking for as much as $15 million per season for his services. The Saints ideally (and realistically) would prefer to pay less, likely something right at or near $12 million per season.

That obviously will be one of the biggest factors that ultimately determine where he will end up. Suh is rumored to be looking to make as much money as he possibly can in what likely will be his final NFL contract.

In the end, New Orleans will only land Suh if he is willing to play for less money than what he made previously in Miami, and try to sell him on the idea that the Saints are as close to making the Super Bowl and winning a championship (which Suh himself has never done) than any other team that he could sign with.

Then of course, there's the "dirty player" label.

Photo courtesy of USA TODAY Sports

As a younger player with the Lions, Suh appeared at times to struggle mightily with controlling his temper — and was previously fined eight different times and suspended twice for numerous "dirty" plays.

Since that time however, it's become rather obvious (at least reportedly by those who really know him best) that Suh has grown emotionally and matured a lot as a person, which usually ends up the case for 20-something year old men that go on to have children and then eventually decide to settle down and start a family.

Assuming those two reasons are no longer an issue for apprehensive Saints fans, the next question that likely will be asked by those who remain skeptical about him possibly playing for the Black and Gold is:

Do the Saints really NEED Suh?

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

Let's put it this way: if the Saints really want to win another Super Bowl before Drew Brees retires, then bringing in Suh sure isn't going to hurt their chances any.

That's because Suh is still one of the VERY BEST interior defensive linemen in the NFL, grading as "elite" with a Pro Football Focus grade of 91 in 2017.

He has the capability to open up space for fellow defensive lineman, linebackers and anyone else (like a safety playing up close to the line of scrimmage as the Saints often do in defensive coordinator Dennis Allen's scheme) who might be rushing the quarterback. That's because Suh routinely draws double-teams, which increases the chance that one of his fellow teammates are either unblocked or most often times will have a favorable match-up.

He's also considered to be an "elite" run-stopper, and would DRAMATICALLY improve the Saints run defense, which still struggled at times in 2017 and has been one of the team's remaining weaknesses on that side of the football.

Photo courtesy of The San Francisco Examiner

Bringing in Suh would give the Saints an "all-star" caliber D-Line that potentially could make their Front 7 one of the most feared in the entire sport of Pro Football; and would give them a formidable interior pass rush with Suh at the 3-Technique DT spot next to Sheldon Rankins in the middle to put with All-Pro defensive end Cam Jordan.

For a team that's "this close" to winning a Super Bowl like the Saints currently are, signing a player like Ndamukong Suh seemingly would be one of the biggest 'no-brainers' in the team's entire soon-to-be 52 year history.

Ultimately, it will come down to whether Suh prefers making money, or winning a championship (presumably, he'd like to be able to do both).

So to directly answer the question asked in the title of this article, the answer is an unequivocal "yes".

The Saints want Ndamukong Suh for the "right price" — but they NEED him if they hope to get past the Eagles, Vikings, and Rams and help Drew Brees win a Super Bowl, before he retires.........

Big Easy Magazine contributing writer and Saints News Network columnist Barry Hirstius is a 51-year old semi-retired journalist, former New Orleans-area sports editor, and writer previously with several sites that exclusively cover the New Orleans Saints football team. Additionally, he is a recurring guest on a variety of local Sports Talk Radio programs. Barry is also a New Orleans native who grew up as a fan of the team while attending games as a young boy at the old Tulane Stadium in the early 1970’s, originally following and now covering the team for a span of over 40 plus years. And perhaps most importantly of all: he is the Grandfather of two beautiful young girls, Jasmine and Serenity.....

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