The Dolphins issued a vehement on-the-record denial on Sunday of a CBS report that said Miami plans to part ways with defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh.
Quoting a source, CBS’ Jason La Canfora said the Dolphins plan to move on from Suh after this season.
La Canfora wrote that Suh’s “grabbing of quarterback Ryan Mallett's throat [against Baltimore on] Thursday night was just the latest in a string of incidents that will hasten his departure from the team that made him the highest-paid defensive player in the game just two years ago, according to a source close to owner Stephen Ross. The Dolphins are preparing to move on from the defensive tackle in 2018, the source said, and are prepared to absorb a hefty -- but hardly impossible -- 2019 dead cap hit to do so.”
But the Dolphins publicly and privately insist this is not the case, that Suh remains very much in the 2018 plans. They say on the record that the report is “100 percent not true.”
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Suh had played very well, producing 22 tackles, 2.5 sacks and one forced fumble and helping anchor a defense that is much better against the run.
Miami is allowing 95.4 yards rushing per game, ninth-best in the league, and 3.8 yards per carry, which is 10th best. Pro Football Focus ranks Suh among the league’s top three defensive tackles, based on 2017 performance.
Defensive coordinator Matt Burke said less than two weeks ago that the Dolphins very much appreciate what Suh is doing, not only his high-level play but his evolution into a mentor for young players.
“Suh has been great,” Burke said. “Been giving a lot of feedback on the sideline on game days. Coming over to those guys and what he’s seeing. Been really receptive to me telling him, I need to move up over here to do this.
“I’ve known him for 10 years. We drafted him in Detroit. Biggest thing I’ve seen is how he’s been with the young guys. Really taken those two rookie tackles [Davon Godchaux and Vincent Taylor] and Jordan Phillips under his wing. More than I’ve ever seen him try to help those guys. He sees where he is in his career and say another way I can help is keep my legacy going with some of these guys and help them become good players. He’s been really, really good with the other tackles and being another coach out there for us.”
Suh, who is signed through 2020, has a $26 million cap hit next season. If the Dolphins released him before June 1, it would be $22.2 million.
If Miami released him with a post-June 1 designation, his 2018 cap hit would be $9.1 million, with a $13.1 million hit for 2019. He would then be off Miami’s books.
Suh is due $17 million in base salary next season and $8.5 million of his salary would be guaranteed if he is still on Miami's roster on the fifth day of the 2018 league year.
This is Suh’s third season with the team, and he will have made $60 million by the end of the season.
Suh is likely to be fined, but probably not suspended, for grabbing Mallett’s throat.
“Simple as this: He came at me, tried to attack me, and I'm protecting myself,” Suh said of Mallett.
When asked if he regrets putting his hands on Mallett’s throat, Suh responded:
“I'm not never going to regret protecting myself.”
Though 14 of the Ravens’ 40 points against Miami on Thursday came on interception returns for touchdowns, the defensive performance didn’t meet the Dolphins’ standards.
Baltimore rushed for 174 yards on 4.3 per carry.
“We didn’t tackle very well,” coach Adam Gase said. “It’s hard to explain because we’ve tackled so well for so long and we just had some of those breakdowns. We’ve got to have guys make sure that they stay responsible with their gaps. I think when we get a little leaky, guys try to compensate for each other and then it becomes worse. It’s a fine line on defense when you have guys that can make plays and they start going outside, really, the box that you’re trying to stay in with your responsibilities, and they don’t make those plays. Then all of a sudden that 4-yard run becomes 12. We had some of that going on.”
Gase said Thursday was surprising defensively to “have those kind of breakdowns” because “we’ve tackled so well for the majority of the season, to have those kind of breakdowns. I don’t know if it’s that place [Baltimore]. Both years we’ve gone there, we’ve not done well against them.”