Tampa Bay Buccaneers

2022 Buccaneers Free Agent Focus: Ndamukong Suh

A dominant defensive force for more than a decade in the NFL, DL Ndamukong Suh has played the last three seasons in Tampa on one-year deals and is due to become a free agent again in March


The Tampa Bay Buccaneers drafted quite well from 2017-2020, hitting on a long list of players who became starters on the 2020-21 teams that won one Super Bowl and posted a winning percentage just shy of 75%. (It's too early to judge the 2021 class headlined by Joe Tryon-Shoyinka). At the same time, the Buccaneers were fairly quiet in free agency, adding just small handful of outside veterans each year. But several of those additions hit big, too, which is how a Super Bowl roster came together.

Chief among those, of course, was quarterback Tom Brady, who guided the Bucs to a 29-10 record in his two seasons before electing to retire a month ago. But there others: center Ryan Jensen, outside linebacker Shaquil Barrett, running back Leonard Fournette. And in the middle of a defensive front that has allowed the fewest rushing yards in the NFL – by a margin of over 500 yards – over the past three years, Ndamukong Suh.

Some of those imported veterans are coming due again. Suh has played on three straight one-year deals, suggesting the possibility of a decision at any time to retire after 12 seasons in which he almost never missed a game and played a huge volume of snaps. If Suh does choose to continue his playing career, will he want to stay with the team with which he won his only Super Bowl so far? And with the Buccaneers facing a list of 23 potential unrestricted free agents, how high will Suh be on their list of priorities?

The Bucs won't be able to keep all 23 of those potential free agents, but they'll try to keep as much of their playoff-caliber core intact as possible. And so, in the weeks leading up to the start of the new league year, we are going to look at 10 key players who are currently poised to become unrestricted free agents in mid-March. This is the full schedule of our 2022 Free Agent Focus rundown:

February 15: TE Rob Gronkowski

February 17: G Alex Cappa

February 22: CB Carlton Davis

February 24: QB Blaine Gabbert

March 1: DL Ndamukong Suh

March 3: RB Leonard Fournette

March 8: DL Will Gholston

March 10: WR Chris Godwin

March 14: S Jordan Whitehead

March 15: C Ryan Jensen

This list is subject to change based on potential roster moves in the coming weeks. However, today we will focus on one of the most dominant defensive players in the NFL over the last decade-plus.

Player: Ndamukong Suh

Position: Defensive Lineman

Age at the Start of the 2022 Season: 35

Experience: Entering 13th NFL season

How Acquired: Signed as a free agent in May of 2019

Previous Contract(s): Suh has played each of the last three seasons on a one-year contract, though his most recent one also included four automatically voiding years (2022-05) for salary cap purposes. As a member of the 2010 draft class, he initially got a four-year deal with the Detroit Lions after being selected second overall; the 2011 CBA would introduce the current system in which all first-round picks get a four-year contract with a fifth-year team option. After finishing that rookie deal, Suh signed a six-year contract with the Miami Dolphins in 2015 but was released after three seasons with a post-June 1 designation. He then signed a one-year contract with the Los Angeles Rams in 2018 and helped them advance to Super Bowl LIII.

Rank in Pro Football Focus Top 100 NFL Free Agents for 2021**:** 185th. PFF comment: "One of the most durable players of his generation, Suh is coming off a career-low 798 snaps, a number that still ranks 16 among interior defensive linemen. He has regularly played 850-plus snaps per season, including two years over 1,000."

2021 Performance: Suh started all 17 games during the regular season (of course) and collected 6.0 sacks for the second year in a row. He ranked second on the Bucs' defense in that category behind Barrett and also finished third with 13 quarterback hits. Suh added 27 tackles, seven tackles for loss and one fumble recovery. He was a key figure in a defensive front that allowed the third fewest rushing yards in the NFL after fishing first in that category in both 2019 and 2020.

Suh started both of the Bucs' playoff games as well and recorded eight tackles, a half-sack and a forced fumble. He tied for the team lead with four quarterback hits. His clutch forced fumble off Rams running back Cam Akers with less than three minutes left in regulation gave the Buccaneers a chance to complete a stunning 24-point rally in a Divisional Round contest, though Los Angeles would go on to win the game with a last-second field goal.

Suh did play a career-low 717 defensive snaps during the regular, or about 63% of the team's total, but that was still the most by any of the Bucs' interior defensive linemen.

Career Accomplishments: Suh's 12 seasons so far have included five trips to the Pro Bowl and three Associated Press first-team All-Pro selections, plus two more second-team selections. His career statistics include 70.5 sacks, 212 quarterback hits, 590 tackles, 38 passes defensed, one interception, five forced fumbles, nine fumble recoveries and three defensive touchdowns.

Suh has helped his teams qualify for the playoffs in half of his 12 seasons, including two each with the Buccaneers and Lions and one each with the Dolphins and Rams. In 12 postseason contests, he has recorded seven sacks and 18 quarterback hits. His seven sacks are tied for the third most in the NFL among current active players.

One of the more remarkable aspects of Suh's NFL career has been his durability. He has played in and started 213 of a possible 215 games since first joining the Lions in 2010, playoffs included, and has never missed a game due to injury. He has active streaks of 164 games played and started in the regular season, easily the longest in the NFL.

Other Potential Free Agent Interior Defensive Linemen: Akiem Hicks (Chicago), Calais Campbell (Baltimore), Folorunso Fatukasi (N.Y. Jets), B.J. Hill (Cincinnati), D.J. Jones (San Francisco), Linval Joseph (L.A. Chargers), Sebastian Joseph-Day (L.A. Rams), Maliek Collins (Houston), Sheldon Richardson (Cleveland), Tim Settle (Washington), DaQuan Jones (Carolina), Harrison Phillips (Buffalo), Maurice Hurst (San Francisco), Derrick Nnadi (Kansas City)

Top Interior Defensive Line Prospects in 2022 NFL Draft: Jordan Davis (Georgia), Devonte Wyatt (Georgia), DeMarvin Leal (Texas A&M), Perrion Winfrey (Oklahoma), Phidarian Mathis (Alabama), Travis Jones (Connecticut), Haskell Garrett (Ohio State), Logan Hall (Houston), Josh Paschal (Kentucky), Neil Farrell (LSU)

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