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Lions GM glad Suh deal is Dolphins’ problem

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Defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh was a headache for opponents in the NFC North, but Lions general manager Martin Mayhew is relieved his salary is not his franchise’s burden.

Suh left for the Miami Dolphins in free agency, hooked with a $114 million contract and $60 million fully guaranteed, a pact that was all but signed and sealed by the time the 2015 league year began.

Mayhew and the Lions made what the team considered an aggressive bid to keep Suh. The Detroit Free Press reported the offer was six years, $102 million. The Lions were also working within constraints of two megadeals, the contracts of quarterback Matthew Stafford and wide receiver Calvin Johnson.

The Lions moved to replace Suh with another Pro Bowl-caliber interior lineman, acquiring Haloti Ngata from the Baltimore Ravens.

“I think anytime you lose a quality player like (Suh), especially in the short term, that is to your detriment,” Mayhew said Monday. “I think in the long term, I think we’re going to be glad we don’t have that contract on our books. But in the short term, that’s an issue.”

Mayhew said there are “a lot of different ways” to give a player $100 million, and he told the Free Press there are “1,000 things I would do differently.”

Retaining the team’s young core, which includes 2013 first-round pick Ziggy Ansah at defensive end and cornerback Darius Slay, was a big-picture view that might have been altered dramatically if the Lions opted to bring back the three-time All-Pro Suh at all costs.

“I think every step throughout the process I think we made a rational, thoughtful decision to move forward and then I think it got to a point where economically in terms of building a sustainable quality football team it didn’t make sense,” Mayhew said. “And at that point, we decided that we weren’t going to continue to offer more.”

If the difference in finances between the two offers was $12 million – not including a significant state income tax difference in the state of Florida – Suh’s statement that he always wanted to stay places the blame on team president Tom Lewand and Mayhew.

“For me, my goal was always to come back,” Suh told the Free Press last week. “I was never looking to want to leave and figure out a different situation. But at the end of the day, I have to do what’s best for myself and for my family because at the end of the day, those are people I have to look in the eyes each and every single day for the rest of my life and know I made the right decision for us as a whole and for my future and my future kids, my wife, that I’ll eventually hopefully have soon.”


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