The Dolphins plan to make a serious bid for Lions free agent star Ndamukong Suh when free agency opens Saturday and are privately confident they can sign him, multiple sources said over the past two days.
The Dolphins are not certain they will sign Suh but will make a highly competitive offer for the four-time, first-team All-Pro defensive tackle.
A deal for Suh could be worth $17 million a year with $60 million in guarantees. Suh wants to be the highest-paid defensive player in football, with a contract exceeding J.J. Watt’s six-year, $100 million deal with Houston, which included $51.8 million in guaranteed money.
Detroit reportedly is still trying to re-sign Suh, and Jacksonville, Oakland, Dallas, Washington and Indianapolis also have been mentioned among potential suitors.
Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio told WQAM’s Joe Rose on Friday that “it’s the Dolphins or Lions” for Suh. “Other teams are just leverage.”
Teams can begin discussing contracts with the agents for other teams’ free agents at noon Saturday but cannot meet with those free agents or sign them before 4 p.m. Tuesday.
With Suh anchoring their defensive line, the Lions were first against the run last season. The Dolphins were 24th.
As the Dolphins prepare to bid for Suh, they have kept impending free agent defensive tackle Jared Odrick in limbo.
Despite previously conveying that they planned to make an offer, the team had not made one as of Friday morning. Still, the Dolphins haven’t ruled out trying to re-sign him, presumably if they don’t get Suh. Mike Tannenbaum, the Dolphins’ executive vice president/football operations, said in a radio interview last week that the Dolphins want to keep him.
Odrick would consider a Dolphins offer, but he’s expected to attract a lot of interest and likely will command a deal in the range of $7 million or more annually. The Colts, Chiefs, Raiders, Bears and Jaguars are among teams expected to have interest.
With regard to Odrick, keep in mind that Miami showed no interest in re-signing Randy Starks for the first two months of the offseason last year, then made him an offer (which he accepted) early in free agency. But it’s almost impossible to envision Miami having the cap space for Suh and Odrick.
If the Dolphins sign Suh, they might cut Starks to save $5 million against the cap, and enter next season with Suh, Earl Mitchell, a veteran free agent who’s cheaper than Starks and Odrick, with AJ Francis and Anthony Johnson and perhaps a draft pick as depth.
The Jets re-signed linebacker David Harris, who interested the Dolphins, and Miami might now turn its attention to Tampa Bay free agent inside linebacker Mason Foster.
The Dolphins would like to upgrade at middle linebacker. Koa Misi could be moved back to strong-side linebacker if the Dolphins are successful finding a replacement in the middle.
▪ Left tackle Branden Albert, recovering from major knee surgery, said on Instagram he’s working “to come back to the best I can be” but indicated he could not say for sure if he will be ready for the first game of the season.
Herald sports writer Armando Salguero contributed to this report.