Jay Z proved his worth in the agency industry when he broke the bank for his client Robinson Cano a few months back. He’s now in a great position to do the same on the gridiron with his newest client: Lions DT Ndamukong Suh.
The Lions released Wide Receiver Nate Burleson and Safety Louis Delmas earlier today, gaining $11.08 million in cap space in the process. This was an essential move for the Lions. Not only were they over the projected 2014 cap before these releases, but they also intend to sign Suh—who will become a free agent after the 2014 season (his 2015 contract voids 5 days after the Super Bowl)—to a long-term extension.
Jay Z and his newly founded Roc Nation Sports have inherited an excellent negotiating position. Because Suh restructured his contract each of the past two offseasons, his current 2014 cap hit is $22,412,500. But more importantly, because his 2015 contract automatically voids, the Lions will be left with a $9,737,500 dead money hit if Suh decides to leave via 2015 free agency.
So what does this all mean? It means that whoever is negotiating this contract on Suh’s behalf (Darren Heitner of Forbes and Sports Agent Blog noted yesterday that because Jay Z isn’t currently certified as an NFLPA Contract Advisor, either agent Kimberly Ann Miale or reps from CAA will be handling the on-field negotiations) will have a tremendous amount of leverage in the upcoming negotiations.
Suh is already the NFLs highest paid DT from his rookie deal, so the amount of money that his reps will attempt to secure is anybody’s guess. Factor in his monstrous 2014 cap hit and the inevitable dead money that the Lions will have to eat if they let him walk, and this all adds up to Suh setting a new salary precedent for DTs.
As I’ve mentioned before, Lions GM Martin Mayhew is on thin ice in Detroit. He’ll likely be out as GM if Detroit doesn’t make the playoffs in 2014, so he probably isn’t thinking about the long-term implications of his moves and the cap mess that they might leave behind.
Suh just turned 27 years old last month, and should have multiple years left in his prime. With all the leverage his camp has, be prepared to see Suh receive a massive annual salary (greater than his current $12.94 million per year), as well as a colossal signing bonus (my guess is that it will be around $25 million).