ALLEN PARK, Mich. (AP) Ndamukong Suh is all set to suit up for his first practice as a member of the Detroit Lions.
Team president Tom Lewand said Wednesday morning the team had agreed to terms with Suh and expected him to arrive in time to participate in the afternoon practice.
Suh, the No. 2 pick overall in the NFL draft, didn’t report to training camp with his teammates Friday and missed more than four days of practice.
“I give a lot of credit to Roosevelt Barnes and Eugene Parker,” said Lewand, referring to Suh’s agents. “Obviously, and most importantly to Ndamukong himself because it takes a player’s involvement to really get a deal done. While we would’ve liked to do it earlier – I’m sure he would’ve liked to do it earlier – we’re just glad it’s done and over with and he’s got a lot of training camp ahead of him.”
A person familiar with the negotiations told The Associated Press the deal is a five-year contract worth $40 million guaranteed and as much as $68 million. The person spoke on the condition of anonymity because the talks were confidential.
Lewand said he’s not concerned with how Suh’s deal compares to the contract Matthew Stafford signed last year after Detroit drafted the quarterback No. 1 overall. Stafford’s six-year contract has $41.7 million in guarantees with a maximum value of $78 million.
“The focus needs to be what they do for a living, not how much they make doing it,” Lewand said.
Detroit needs Suh to do a lot.
The Lions are counting on the former Nebraska defensive tackle to bolster a defense that ranked among the league’s all-time worst in points allowed the past two seasons while the team went 2-30.
Detroit coach Jim Schwartz has said he was disappointed Suh missed some opportunities in training camp and veteran center Dominic Raiola told reporters Suh should tell his agents to make a deal. Soon thereafter, both sides agreed to terms.
Suh’s absence was half as long as Calvin Johnson’s in 2007, when the team had its longest holdout since Bryant Westbrook missed almost the first month of training camp.
Detroit is hoping Suh was worth the weight.
He was the first defensive player to win The Associated Press College Football Player of the Year award since its inception in 1998 and was a Heisman Trophy finalist. The 6-foot-4 Suh, whose weight hovers around 300 pounds, swept the Nagurski and Bednarik awards as national defensive player of the year last season and won the Lombardi Award and Outland Trophy honoring college football’s top linemen.
His breakout game was a 4 1/2-sack performance against Texas in the Big 12 title game and he finished with 12 sacks.
Suh was the first defensive tackle to be drafted among the top two picks since Oakland took Darrell Russell in 1997.
Suh graduated from Nebraska with a degree in construction management from the College of Engineering, to which $600,000 of a $2 million pledge he made earlier this year will go toward endowing a scholarship.
His mother, Bernadette, is a schoolteacher from Jamaica who required her son to post a 3.0 grade-point average before he could play football. His father, Michael, was born in Cameroon and became a mechanical engineer after moving to Portland, Ore., where his large son was quite a sight on soccer fields.
“Ndamukong is an incredibly intelligent individual and he’s also very mature,” Lewand said. “I’m very impressed with him as an individual and obviously organizationally, we’re impressed with him as a football player as well.
“We’re excited to get him in here.”
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