LIONS INSIDER

NOTEBOOK: Ndamukong Suh extension talks; Mayhew on criticism and continuing to run the ball

Posted Jan 16, 2014

The Lions and All- Pro defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh are beginning the groundwork in what both sides hope will be a contract extension

All Pro defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh is entering the final year of his contract and is set to count $22.4 million towards this year’s salary cap.

Ndamukong SuhDT Ndamukong Suh (Photo: Gavin Smith)

Lions president Tom Lewand told reporters Wednesday night the team has expressed interest in keeping Suh long-term and that Suh has reciprocated that interest.

The two sides appear to have begun the groundwork of getting a new deal in place, but it had been slowed by the team’s process of finding their next head coach.

"We’ve held off on some discussions and I’ve had some agents called me already on some guys who are up but I said, 'We don’t have a head coach right now,'" general manager Martin Mayhew said. "We want to make sure we’re doing things in tandem and lockstep and that we’re collaborating on everything.

"I certainly have thoughts on a lot of our players, but I do want to involve our coaching staff and our coordinators, whoever they are, and our position coaches in all those kinds of decisions."

Now that head coach Jim Caldwell is on board, expect those conversations to ramp up in the coming weeks.

The benchmark for Suh’s new deal is likely to be the five-year, $55 million contract Bengals' defensive tackle Geno Atkins got from Cincinnati.

Only Atkins has more sacks (29) than Suh (27.5) from the defensive tackle position over the last four years.

MAYHEW ON CRITICISM

The hire of Caldwell has been praised on a national level from people around football and in the game.

Locally, however, Lions fans are still somewhat skeptical of the hire.

Mayhew said he spoke to a fan before Wednesday's press conference announcing Caldwell as the new head coach.

"He said, 'Man, the radio was on and they were criticizing you guys and saying some really mean things about you. How do you deal with that?'

"I said, 'You know, I played cornerback in the league and I played across from Darrell Green, so I can deal with that. I dealt with that a lot.'"

Mayhew said criticism doesn’t really impact him and that his goal through this whole process was to do the right thing for the football team, even if others had a different view of the process.

"I think this is kind of like a draft choice, you can’t judge a draft choice the day after the draft," he said. "You judge the draft choice how the draft choice performs and I think Jim Caldwell is going to perform."

CONTINUING TO RUN

Joique BellRB Joique Bell (Photo: Gavin Smith)

The Lions run game was vastly improved this past season with Reggie Bush and Joique Bell combining for 1,656 yards.

The Lions rushed the ball 40.4 percent of the time this year, which was the most in the last five years.

Mayhew would like that trend to continue.

"One of the most frustrating things over the past five years, really until this year, was out ability to run the ball effectively in the NFC North," he said. "And then we really didn’t stop the run as well. Some of that was personnel related, but that was hard for me, personally, from what I wanted in my football team. I think that’s not going to be an issue with Jim’s offense."

When asked about his offense on Wednesday, Caldwell said the run game would continue to be important in Detroit.

"No. 1, we want to make certain we control the line of scrimmage," he said. "So I think you have to have a team offensively that can run the ball."