The test of first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function.
F. Scott Fitzgerald
I'm fortunate to have an ample prism to see life in many different perspectives.
I hold two of them when it comes to the maddening case of Ndamukong Suh.
I'm entrenched in the stance that the Lions shouldn't commit an enormous sum to Suh in any long term extension. Just as Max Scherzer is six months - hopefully injury free and successful ones - away from free market freedom that will likely provide him one of MLB's richest deals ever, similarly, but inversely, the Lions are eleven or so months away from finally escaping their Sisyphean imprisonment from the old, ruthlessly restricting CBA.
If the Lions and Suh part ways, a year from now it's possible they can be a major player in free agency. Making go-for-it moves like the Saints did with Jairus Byrd and Denver with DeMarcus Ware and TJ Ward.
Yes, yes, the NFL's cap will continue to rise - possibly 25% in a few years - potentially giving the Lions room to catch their financial breath, but even as the percentage of cap space used by Stafford, Johnson and Suh would conceivably shrink, new financial albtrosses could arise.
The Lions have painfully thrusted the Suh boulder nearly to the hill's zenith. Now is the time to realize they personal leverage as well. Though maybe not with the player.
The Lions can contend for the Super Bowl this year. Ohhhh, hang on and catch your Adam's Apple. They can contend for, and maybe in the playoffs, this year.
The 2012 Chiefs had an array of Pro Bowlers and further talent, so to see them turnaround their fortunes so quickly under a new coach and quarterback wasn't stunning, but it was no less impressive to have a 9 game reversal. Regardless of their shoddy playoff performance.
Carolina was 7-9 in '12, 12-4 last year. Philadelphia 4-12 to 10-6.
Hey, like two of those teams noted above, the Lions have a new coach! Caldwell's staff is going to prove their jobs by Stafford's improvement. Right, RIGHT, RIGHT!?
We've mostly agreed all along that Detroit's only been deprived of true talent in their secondary. Other than that, at least last year's Lions team was a blizzard and some easily correctable mistakes from having won the division. Before Christmas!
The opposing viewpoint Fitzgerald allows me to think with is emphatic in saying the Lions are almost undoubtedly a better team with Suh, than without.
With Suh having not shown up for voluntary workouts - whether he wants to stay or not, I question the judgment of that under his famous new representation of RocNation - the Lions have further affirmation about his commitment to them.
Especially in the wake of the Eagles saying TEAM over PLAYER (yes, one with some questionable character and cohorts), and cutting Desean Jackson, the Lions need to seriously consider trading Suh.
Remember, the game of Russian Roulette with no Suh reworking means there better be a playoff win OR TWO, to offset Suh walking away for zilch.
Would they be less of whatever level of contender you proclaim them without Suh? Probably.
There are, however, benefits. The acquisition of draft picks; potentially premium ones. Not first round, but any picks are vital in the NFL in this era. The Lions also send one of their Sisyphean boulders down the other side of the hill for good, which should improve them in the future.
As complicated as crunching NFL salaries paired with its cap can be, let's do some rudimentary math. Suh is scheduled to make $12.5 million in base salary this year. That number would fit on half the teams in the league. If we add the MISC into Suh's '14 pay and say it carries to the team he's traded to, there's still six teams whose budget he'd slide in under. And that's without Suh committing to that team and working an extension for THAT team to get further cap life for the '14 season.
What's the cost? No way the Lions can procure a first round pick for the NBA's version of an expiring contract, especially without an extension with the acquired player. I'm not going to parade before you a dozen combinations of picks to have you play along with this exercise, so let's agree to leave it at a 2nd and a conditional in '15, perhaps a 3rd or 4th depending on play. Don't argue, just move along.
Ugh. Yes. A 2nd this year could provide the equity to jump up for Sammy Watkins. Possibly. But STOP. The Lions just traded away an All Pro DT, and Nick Fairley is no lock to stick around. *The Lions, thanks to two 4th round compensation picks, have 8 total selections in the May draft* They don't need to take Watkins. You're aiming the bazooka at a fly, when WITH IMPROVEMENT FROM THE QB, you already have enough firepower.
Three selections, possibly in the top 60, in supposedly the deepest draft in years would, or should be enticing to the Lions.
Did the Eagles cut off their nose to spite their face by cutting Jackson? We will find out for sure come September through early winter.
Would the Lions derail their 2014 postseason chances if they trade Suh? The train might hit some broken tracks, but I can't for sure say 'ugh, season's over!' Not when the player no longer part of things isn't the quarterback.
They don't have to do it, but the Lions would be foolish not to gauge Suh's value leading up to the draft.
*One of the teams Suh's deal might fit into is Buffalo's. Kreger HA'd at that one. Then so did I.*