Ndamukong Suh To Dolphins Increases Patriots’ Need To Protect Tom Brady


Mar 8, 2015

Tom Brady reportedly will have one more player coming for his head next season.

The Miami Dolphins made the first splash (do you see what I did there?) acquisition in free agency by agreeing to a mega six-year, $114 million contract with star defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, sources told ESPN’s Chris Mortensen.

Suh isn’t J.J. Watt, but he fits in the next-best tier of interior defensive linemen along with players like Gerald McCoy and Muhammad Wilkerson. The soon-to-be-former Detroit Lions defender was the No. 2 overall pick in the 2010 NFL draft, and he’s lived up to his nearly top billing. He’s a player who’s as disruptive against the run as he is as a pass rusher. He’s finished first or second in total pressures among defensive tackles for the past three seasons, and ranked fourth at his position in total stops in 2014, according to Pro Football Focus.

Still, that’s a lot of money to be paying a defensive tackle, and while it will undoubtedly improve the Dolphins’ defensive line, it might not make a giant impact on the AFC East standings.

The Lions were 38-42 during Suh’s tenure with the team. The Houston Texans are 33-31 since drafting Watt in the first round of the 2011 NFL draft. An interior defensive lineman is a nice piece of the puzzle, but as long as Tom Brady and Bill Belichick still are leading the Patriots, then you might as well keep writing New England atop the AFC East standings with one of those golf pencils lacking an eraser.

The reported agreement does put an impetus on the Patriots to improve their interior offensive line, however. The Patriots must look to improve one of their guard positions this offseason, while allowing Ryan Wendell and Dan Connolly — a free agent — to compete for the other starting role.

There are some appealing options available at guard in free agency, but if the Patriots hope to retain cornerback Darrelle Revis and safety Devin McCourty, then they’re probably better off drafting a new offensive lineman.

The AFC East now features three of the best defensive lines in the NFL in the Dolphins, Buffalo Bills and New York Jets, and the Patriots won’t be able to get away with just a serviceable group to protect Brady.

Only time will tell if the Suh signing was worth it for the Dolphins, who will have to make some room to fit the defensive tackle under their salary cap, but their success depends more on head coach Joe Philbin and quarterback Ryan Tannehill than it does on any splashy free-agent signing — and that might be a scary premise for Miami fans.

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