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Should Cowboys Sign Free Agent Ndamukong Suh?

Could the Dallas Cowboys choose to add a potentially high-priced, but high-reward piece to aid both their run and pass defense?

The Dallas Cowboys are expected to field a young, but talented front seven in 2022.

Despite the departure of defensive end Randy Gregory, Dallas still has plenty of capable defenders in the fold, including defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence and linebacker Micah Parsons. Still, the Cowboys have been rumored to be in the mix to add more edge rushers but bolster the middle of the defensive line to apply pressure on opposing quarterbacks.

Might they choose to add a potentially high-priced, but high-reward piece to aid both their run and pass defense?

According to Bleacher Report, the Cowboys would be smart to consider signing free agent defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh.

“With cap space to spare, the team should take a hard look at defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh,” their report read on Tuesday. “While he isn’t the dominant interior pass-rusher he once was, he can still bring pressure and wreak havoc against the run.”

While Suh’s best days may be behind him, he is still capable of contributing strength, athleticism and durability to many a defensive line in the NFL. The 35-year-old has been an enforcer along the defensive lines of the Detroit Lions, Miami Dolphins, Los Angeles Rams and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers throughout his 12-year career. The Nebraska product has compiled 590 total tackles (130 for loss), 70.5 sacks, 212 quarterback hits, five forced fumbles and nine fumble recoveries. He played the last three seasons for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, helping the Bucs defense to a Super Bowl title in 2020.

Suh’s greatest selling point, however, may be his durability. Throughout his career, he has played in 191 of a possible 193 regular season games. He hasn't missed a game since 2011, his second season in the league.

Though his overall resume may provide excitement for his potential addition in Dallas, there are reasons why the Cowboys should proceed with caution. In 2021, Suh logged six sacks, 27 tackles, 13 quarterback hits and a fumble recovery while starting all 17 games in 2022. Still, he earned a mere 49.4 defensive grade from Pro Football Focus (PFF), including a 50.2 run-defensive grade and a 54.2 pass-rushing grade last season. Each of these ratings were career-lows. Suh also posted a career-low in quarterback hurries with 24. His 37 total quarterback pressures were his lowest since the 2011 season when he registered 34 pressures in 14 games. While it is possible that his 2021 totals may be an anomaly, the question over whether his overall effectiveness and effort on game day may be on the downslope.

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Ultimately, Suh’s services may come at a price which may be unpalatable for the Cowboys.

Despite having $22,461,544 in available cap space, per OverTheCap, Dallas is likely to be reluctant to commit approximately $8-9 million to sign the 12-year veteran. Having signed a trio of one-year deals with the Buccaneers in recent seasons [for $9.3 million, $8 million and $9 million, respectively], Suh is unlikely to lower his asking price. Even with training camps set to open throughout the league, the durable defensive tackle seems content to remain relatively steadfast in his contractual desires.

Conversely, Dallas has been fiscally careful throughout the offseason, largely in part to previous cap restraints. In addition to passing on Gregory, the Cowboys released offensive lineman La’el Collins and traded receiver Amari Cooper to the Cleveland Browns. With several in-house and more affordable options available on their roster [such as Neville Gallimore, Carlos Watkins, Osa Odighizuwa and Trysten Hill] Dallas is likely to conserve much of his cap space for 2023.

And there’s one more issue: In addition to Dallas’ in-house faith in Osa and Gallimore in particular, our Mike Fisher reports that the Cowboys view Suh as a talent who “takes time off” - maybe during the week, maybe on Sundays.

While nothing can be ruled out, the likelihood of Suh finding a similarly deal to that which he has recently signed with Tampa Bay is low, especially with Dallas. Still, he should command far more than a bargain deal; having been just two years removed from receiving a 69.6 overall PFF score while notching a 74.3 for his run defense in 2020. If Suh is capable of returning to form, he will earn the sum of his contract. Yet, even though a slight reduction in his asking price seems imminent, it remains probable that his next NFL opportunity will come outside of Dallas.

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