The Detroit Lions are postponing contract talks with All-Pro defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh until after the season.
Suh is entering the final season of his contract, and team president Tom Lewand and general manager Martin Mayhew said before practice Monday that negotiations are being tabled. Lewand and Mayhew both expressed optimism that a deal can eventually be reached.
"He's told me he wants to be here. I have a good relationship with him," Mayhew said. "I know I want him to be here. I don't know what else to tell you."
Lewand said Detroit's salary cap situation isn't the reason for the delay in an agreement.
If the two sides can't reach a deal after the season, the Lions could still keep Suh by using their franchise tag on him.
"I wouldn't close the door on that," Mayhew said. "Every year, we have people concerned about our ability to function under the salary cap, and thus far we've been able to go out in free agency every year and add to our team, make our team better. ... I think the cap is going to go up next year, and probably the year after that too."
Suh was drafted in 2010 by the Lions with the second overall pick, and he has 27 1/2 sacks in his four pro seasons.
"We have a high degree of confidence that we can work out something that'll be mutually satisfactory at the right time, and the goal hasn't changed in the least. But the timing is such that we think the focus needs to be on the field, starting today," Lewand said. "There's no adversarial nature to this decision. ... I think this is what's right for everybody."
Mayhew said contract negotiations during the season can make it harder for a player to stay focused, so it's important to put off any further discussions. He admitted these talks haven't progressed as quickly as he expected.
"At the combine, I probably thought around the start of free agency, possibly," Mayhew said. "After the draft, I thought probably by now. And now I think probably next year."
So now the Lions sound prepared to wait until then for a resolution.
"It's been my experience from doing this that when you can get a deal done in five minutes, the player's not very good," Mayhew said. "It takes a little bit of time to get good players signed, and it's a little bit more complicated."
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