Nobody disputes that Ndamukong Suh is a terrific football player. But he was the wrong player for the New York Jets.
If the New York Jets were just a player away from making a serious run at their first Super Bowl title in more than 50 years, then signing Ndamukong Suh would have been a no-brainer.
But that’s not where the Jets find themselves heading into 2018. And it’s why the
team’s decision acting owner Christopher Johnson’s decision to rescind the team’s offer to the monstrous free agent on Sunday was the right move to make.
“I don’t want to be a flash in the pan,” Johnson told reporters, per ESPN’s Rich Cimini, when discussing his team-building approach. “I don’t want to load up on people who can get you there but can’t keep you there. This is about building something great long-term.”
Look, there’s no question—none—that Suh would have been a dynamic force on the Jets defensive line. He’d have given the club their most impactful, fear-inspiring, hole-clogging, double-team demanding force up front since Damon Harrison.
But Suh is heading into his age-31 season—his ninth in the NFL. While he’s been remarkably durable—playing in every game he was eligible to appear in—you can’t outrun Father Time. Eventually, all the wear-and-tear he’s undergone will catch up with him.
It catches up with everybody.
Does anyone really believe that Suh would be as dominant—or worth the guaranteed money the Jets would have had to commit to him—two or three years down the road?
It’s far more likely that, given the benefit of hindsight, the Jets and their fans would have wished that they passed on Suh back in 2018.
The bigger issue, of course, is the sizable baggage that the six-foot-four, 307-pound behemoth brings with him.
Consider this. From 2008 through 2014, Suh was fined eight times—and suspended twice. The total cost in fines and lost wages? Per Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press, Suh racked up a total bill of $404,169.
While some may say “Hey, those things happened more than four years ago,” remember that’s only what he was actually penalized for. There were other situations more recently in which he escaped punishment.
Like the time in 2015 when he kicked then-New York Jets quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick in the head.
Or that time last season when he grabbed Baltimore Ravens quarterback Ryan Mallett by the throat to shove him away.
You can certainly make the case that the Fitzpatrick incident was nothing more than incidental contact, while the Mallett situation was blown out of proportion. It’s not like Suh tried to chokeslam him, after all.
But image is everything, and with as long as Suh’s NFL rap sheet is, officials aren’t going to give him the benefit of the doubt when it appears as if he might be in the wrong.
The Jets don’t need that as they travel the long road back to respectability. They don’t need that influencing the young guys in the locker room, players who actually are a part of the team’s long-term plans.
They just don’t need Ndamukong Suh right now. Thankfully, they realized that before it was too late.