Free-agent defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh was key in helping the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ defense shut down Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs in a 31-9 Super Bowl LV victory, and the five-time Pro Bowler is eyeing a return to Tampa in 2021.
Suh hit the open market last offseason, only to return to the Bucs on a one-year, $8 million contract. It may take a pay cut for the 34-year-old to come back, though.
Ndamukong Suh says he has plenty in the tank for 2021 and beyond
In an interview with Sports Illustrated‘s Albert Breer, Suh spoke about potentially playing a couple more years — and possibly even as many as five additional seasons.
Beyond having discussions with legendary quarterback Tom Brady and general manager Jason Licht about coming back to Tampa Bay, Suh cited what head coach Bruce Arians said about his future in speaking with Breer:
“If you saw our parade celebration on that podium, Coach B.A. [Bruce Arians] said I’m not going anywhere. And he’s usually a man of his word. So I look forward to the opportunity to continue to play, especially for Tampa. And I honestly believe I have a lot of elite, great talent left in me to play. I’m not ready to hang them up yet.”Ndamukong Suh on NFL future
Suh did prove he can still make splash plays on defense this past season, racking up six sacks, 19 quarterback hits, 44 combined tackles and nine tackles for loss. Although his down to down consistency left something to be desired, Suh has plenty of players around him who can pick up the slack. His experience and relentless motor help Suh remain a high-impact defender despite his advanced football age.
All that said, Licht and the personnel department have some really tough decisions to make regarding Suh’s future and whether or not to retain other players who played pivotal roles in the Bucs’ Super Bowl run.
Can the Bucs retain Ndamukong Suh among key free agents?
It depends what Suh values above all else. If he’s eager to have a run at back-to-back championships and agrees to play under a lesser price tag, then his return to Tampa shouldn’t be a problem.
However, there are other factors beyond Suh’s control that make matters difficult. Other Bucs stars will hit the open market, including franchise cornerstone linebacker Lavonte David, elite receiver Chris Godwin, premier pass-rusher Shaquil Barrett and arguable GOAT tight end Rob Gronkowski among others.
Because the NFL salary cap is so much lower for 2021, it’s all the more complicated when it comes to championship contenders keeping their star-laden rosters intact.
Some players such as Brady and wideout Mike Evans could restructure their contracts to accommodate those who really want to run it back in Tampa. Alas, those cap maneuvers can only go so far, which could mean Suh makes far less to stay with the Bucs instead of potentially joining another contender and making more money.
Given that Suh has already been paid handsomely throughout his NFL career, though, he may view the chance at another Super Bowl ring as taking precedence over any other financial incentives.
What does bode well for Suh returning is Arians’ public remarks and the fact that the veteran has already discussed the possibility with Brady and Licht. Everyone involved understands Suh has intangible leadership qualities and immense experience to help execute defensive coordinator Todd Bowles’ complex scheme. Plugging in someone else isn’t as simple as it sounds.