Lions GM trying to woo free agent Suh back

Ryan Wood
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Detroit Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh chases Green Bay Packers quarterback Matt Flynn in a 2013 game.

Detroit Lions general manager Martin Mayhew is sticking with familiarity to sell free agent defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh on re-signing.

For much of his 11 minutes with the media Wednesday at the NFL scouting combine, Mayhew offered Suh a personal recruiting pitch. Detroit has the "essential elements" needed to re-sign him, Mayhew said. Look at the familiar scheme, the familiar head coach, the familiar teammates.

So far, Mayhew said, discussions with Suh have been positive.

"We have everything he's looking for," Mayhew said. "He likes the situation in Detroit. We have a good relationship. He obviously has a great relationship with coach (Jim) Caldwell. All those things make me very optimistic."

More than any other NFC North Division team, the Lions have franchise-altering decisions looming when free agency opens March 10. When the season ended, Mayhew was charged with making decisions on 25 free agents – almost half of the active roster.

That doesn't include running back Reggie Bush, whose future is uncertain with the team.

The Lions could lose both starters in their interior defensive line. The tackle tandem of Suh and Nick Fairley were the cornerstones in Detroit's top-ranked rush defense last season.

Retaining Suh is the top offseason priority. Mayhew would like to see a deal done before moving too deep into free agency, but he said no timetable has been set.

"When you talk about good players, you talk about spending money to get those guys signed," Mayhew said. "We're prepared for what it takes financially to get him signed. In terms of the franchise tag, we're still talking about it."

Suh has been selected to four Pro Bowls and three first team All-Pro teams since being drafted No. 2 overall in 2010. He's also had his share of on-field transgressions.

Three years ago, he stomped on Green Bay center Evan Dietrich-Smith during a Thanksgiving game. Last season, he stepped on Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers' injured calf.

Mayhew said Suh's history of personal conduct issues won't factor into negotiations.

"A lot of the ingredients that need to be there are there," Mayhew said. "I know what he's looking for. He wants to play for a winning team. We've got a team that can win right now. We've got a quality quarterback, we've got a defense he enjoys playing in, we've got a head coach he enjoys playing for.

"So it's a great situation for him, and obviously he's an important part of us building our football team."

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