As the offseason continues to drag on, there are still players on the market with plenty of name value despite being on the back nine of their careers.
Ndamukong Suh is still a free agent and has already stated that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are out of the picture. Reports have surfaced in the last couple of days that the Minnesota Vikings are in consideration. But Suh ending up in purple and gold wouldn’t make much sense.
At age 35, Suh’s career is winding down, yet he still has the itch to strap on the helmet on Sundays. While Minnesota could use depth on the interior of their defensive line, it’s doubtful Suh views himself as a depth piece.
Suh is an alpha and has that mindset even at this stage of his career. The Vikings went out this offseason and signed Harrison Phillips to help clog the middle on the defensive side. Dalvin Tomlinson is still in the picture, and he’s not just in the mix, he hasn’t missed a game in any of his five seasons in the NFL, and he’s started every one of them.
While a carousel of Phillips, Tomlinson, and Suh might make all the sense in the world to the Vikings, convincing Suh to be the third wheel would be a tough sell.
On top of that, Suh is at that stage where he’s likely only playing to continue ring hunting. He has one on his hand as a member of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but all those painful years with the Detroit Lions still have to linger.
The Vikings may be a playoff contender this year, but Super Bowl contender still seems like a stretch. Would Suh really want to spend potentially his last year in the league on a team that’s grinding it out just to get a ticket to the dance? Just about every betting outlet has the Vikings’ win total set at 8.5. Vegas odds are far from the be-all-end-all, but they help paint a picture of how the oddsmakers and many others project the season to go for each team.
So, where else could Suh go?
Per his appearance on ESPN, he seems smitten by the Las Vegas Raiders.
“Chandler Jones and Maxx Crosby, I was exchanging messages with them the other day,” Suh said. “It’s an interesting opportunity for sure. We’ll see where it kind of ends up. But that AFC West is very, very tough, which would be fun. You get out of that, you’re almost destined to get to the Super Bowl.”
Those two words — “Super Bowl” — are the most important. It is another ring he seems to be chasing, not a paycheck. He doubled down on his initial comments.
For the Vikings, it makes sense to target someone like Suh to add another piece to the defensive front. Danielle Hunter and Za’Darius Smith, along with Phillips and Tomlinson, have many fans already licking their chops about the havoc they can create. Adding Suh would give another body to spell Phillips or Tomlinson. It’s just not the role Suh is probably targeting.
The Raiders have the firepower on the edge with Crosby and Jones, but the inside of their defensive line is relatively weak. Johnathan Hankins and Vernon Butler are the names in place, and while both have been around the block and can hold their own, they fall a tier or two below what the Vikings have with Phillips and Tomlinson.
It makes sense for the Vikings to target Suh, or to put out a flier at least to gauge his interest. From Suh’s perspective, it just doesn’t add up. Minnesota has a nice one-two punch. But in the grand scheme, they aren’t quite in that top tier of teams expected to contend for a championship this year. That could change, but Suh is deciding based on what he knows now.
That doesn’t mean the Raiders are in a better place than the Vikings. They have a gauntlet of a division going up against Patrick Mahomes, Justin Herbert, and Russell Wilson a combined six times a year. Las Vegas made splashes this year in getting Jones and Davante Adams. But they, like the Vikings, are a team that most envision fighting for a playoff spot come the last couple weeks of the season.
However, Vegas can offer an opportunity and assurance that Suh will have a heavy snap count every week. If it’s that itch that needs to be scratched for Suh, the Raiders would make more sense than the Vikings.
Minnesota shouldn’t shy away from continuing to pursue Suh. Getting him on board would be a really nice late offseason addition to a defensive front that should already cause a ruckus. From Suh’s perspective, though, it doesn’t make much sense, assuming he has other suitors.