Updated June 21, 2022 - 12:10 pm
Veteran defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh has made no secret about wanting to play for the Raiders.
The question is, do the Raiders share those feelings?
While appearing on ESPN’s “NFL Live” on Monday, the former second overall pick in the 2010 draft affirmed he wanted to play for the Raiders and said he’s been in contact with some Raiders players about that possibility.
“Chandler Jones and Maxx Crosby, I was exchanging messages with them the other day,” Suh said. “It’s an interesting opportunity for sure. We’ll see where it kind of ends up.
“But that AFC West is very, very tough — which would be fun. You get out of that, you’re almost destined to get to the Super Bowl.”
The sense is the Raiders aren’t as keen on the idea as Suh is, at least at the moment. That is always subject to change depending on how the Raiders assess their defensive line needs ahead of training camp. And money always plays a role. But for now, it appears the interest is not mutual.
The 35-year-old Suh followed his ESPN appearance by tweeting: “Raiders could be fun.”
Raiders could be fun https://t.co/WfZZbWQf9P
— Ndamukong Suh (@NdamukongSuh) June 21, 2022
Jones, who the Raiders signed to play outside linebacker, retweeted Suh by saying: “Stop playin with my emotions Smokey!”
Suh is saying he would like to play in Las Vegas. That puts the ball in the Raiders’ court, and a potential pairing between Suh and the club always has seemed unlikely. It is not clear whether the Raiders don’t feel Suh is a good fit, or that his asking price is too steep.
If it’s more of the latter, that can be mitigated depending on what sort of salary concessions Suh is willing to take.
The Raiders have just over $20 million in cap space available. But cap space doesn’t always line up with spending cash in the budget. They have spent the NFL’s 12th most cash on their 2022 roster at $243,717,437, according to Spotrac, with only the Chargers ($259,641,642) spending more in their division.
Suh has played the last four seasons on one-year deals, the last three in Tampa Bay for at least $8 million. If he is adamant about staying in that range, it’s difficult to see the Raiders meeting that price.
Also, the Raiders are moving from a 4-3 defensive alignment to a 3-4. Suh has played most of his career in the 4-3 scheme.
He is coming off a season in which Pro Football Focus gave him the worst grade of his career at 49.4 (out of 100) although he was credited with six sacks for the second straight season.