2015 Dolphins grades: Ndamukong Suh


The Miami Dolphins made a huge splash when they landed Ndamukong Suh in free agency last season. The defensive lineman was given the largest contract in NFL history at his position, but did he live up to that contract? How did he grade out last season?

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Ndamukong Suh – defensive tackle

2016 salary – $28.6 million

The slow start defensively for the Dolphins was highlighted by the slow start of Suh. Despite facing double and triple teams, Suh was not what the Dolphins had envisioned when they signed him. It was evident that Suh wasn’t buying the defense that Kevin Coyle had installed and things began to change after Coyle was fired following the loss to the Jets in London after week four.

Suh’s production picked up as he began playing more freely on the line. He still faced double and sometimes triple teams but he was able to get more push and found himself put into better position to make plays. Suh finished the season with a 92 grade on ProFootballFocus.com. He had an 87 against the run and a 92 in pass rush.

Suh actually had a good year comparable or better than any other year he has been in the league, except his rookie season in 2010 which is still his best season. His 61 tackles were the most since 2010, his 6 sacks were two and a half short of last seasons total, and he had 5 passes defended his most since 2013.

Many look at Suh’s production and expect more but in reality he gave the Dolphins what he had given Detroit every season. The problem lies with the supporting cast or lack thereof. The linebackers and the other defensive lineman couldn’t take advantage of the blocking schemes that Suh took on.

2015 grade – A

Why an A?

While Suh’s production early in the season wasn’t as good as fans had hoped, the reality was by seasons end he had given the Dolphins the same production that made him a target. Miami got what they paid for and the lack of support hurt him in the minds of many fans. Was he worth the salary? It’s hard to say anyone was or is but Miami expected Suh to open up lanes for other defenders and when those defenders couldn’t do their jobs, that’s where it fell apart. This grade is on his performance alone and not related to his salary.

The biggest question is now his salary. At $28.6 million in cap hit this year Suh is likely going to have his contract tinkered with. A clause in his deal allows the Dolphins to convert some of this number to guarantees spread out over the term of the deal. While that will create a cap relief this year it will saddle the team with a cap hits on the future. Miami may just want to let this one ride for the year and then watch his numbers drop to a more cap friendly number.

The problem is that cap friendly number really isn’t that friendly. Suh’s salary in 2017 drops to $15 million but will balloon back over $20 million in ’18 and ’19.