The Bucs have re-signed the vast majority of their own free agents this offseason, with a few more key players still available. One of those players is defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh. Many have expected the veteran to eventually re-sign with the Bucs this offseason. And it makes sense. Tampa Bay is thin at defensive tackle, and they’ve made no outside signing to fill his spot. Suh is coming off back-to-back six sacks seasons as a great running mate for Vita Vea.

But listening to GM Jason Licht at the league meetings in Palm Beach, it doesn’t sound like re-signing Suh is imminent. In fact, Licht implied that bringing Suh back may hinge on other developments that haven’t take place yet this offseason.

“Still in touch, still talk,” Licht said when asked if he’d spoken with Suh’s representatives. “Got a lot of balls in the air, a lot of decisions we have to make moving forward, for different reasons. But we’ll leave everything. It’s an open door for a lot of different things that could come up. But we’ll see what happens. There is (a time element to it). But there’s a time element on several other positions as well.”

Will Bucs Wait On Re-Signing Suh?

You won’t find many more ambiguous statements than this one from Licht. As a result, I’m left to heavily read between the lines. Here are my guesses as to what is happening with Suh this offseason. Please keep in mind these are educated guesses, not reports.

Suh has always been a bit of a mercenary in free agency. I would be shocked if he settled for Will Gholston-level money to return. He likely wants to be paid in the $8 million range for this season, with incentives. And the Bucs are probably wondering if there are comparable, cheaper options out there as a result. Even if it means they split the $8 million between two players.

Georgia DT Devonte Wyatt

Georgia DT Devonte Wyatt – Photo by: USA Today

When Licht references the “balls in the air”, I think he’s talking about the draft. The Bucs likely want to draft a defensive tackle in April, but will any good ones be available? If Tampa Bay is able to land Devonte Wyatt in the first round, perhaps their desire to re-sign Suh wanes. They’d be four deep at defensive tackle, possibly five if they select another later in the draft. I also wouldn’t rule out a cheap free agent signing before now and the first round.

But, if the Bucs strike out in the draft at defensive tackle, perhaps re-acquiring Suh is a priority again. The team goes to Plan B, pushes a bit more money down the road, and keeps their interior defensive line intact. That may be where both sides are at in negotiations this offseason. Tampa Bay wants Suh back, but probably not at his typical rate. And the three-time All-Pro isn’t willing to play for less. So, unless Suh is willing to go sign elsewhere, this staring match may last until after the draft.

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About the Author: Jon Ledyard

Jon Ledyard is PewterReport.com's newest Bucs beat writer and has experience covering the Pittsburgh Steelers as a beat writer and analyzing the NFL Draft for several draft websites, including The Draft Network. Follow Ledyard on Twitter at @LedyardNFLDraft
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Dude
Dude
3 months ago

From what Licht says here, it sounds like Suh is plan B. The way I read it is, they are either waiting for the draft, to see if they can draft his replacement, or they have someone else in mind in FA and they’re waiting on that offer to come to fruition, or expire.

Spitfire
Spitfire
3 months ago

My first guess when reading that is there is someone else younger in FA that they have their eye on as either a signing or maybe a trade. We will see.

danielob
danielob
3 months ago

I remember what Licht and BA said about wanting more of a pass rushing D tackle at the position, think they will re-sign Suh if the draft doesn’t work out for them at the position. I would make it my first draft priority, D tackle, followed by CB with Dean and SMB both having expiring rookie deals next year, got to keep someone in the pipeline with a years experience. ( Hey Jason, I’m available for free draft advise if you need it, ha ha.).

Alldaway 2.0
Alldaway 2.0
3 months ago

The Bucs may be looking at a trade or signing a cut player so cap space has to be kept with some cushion for flexibility. Post draft cap space and roster space at key positions will be clearer.
So I am in agreement with everyone else that most likely after the draft is when the Bucs consider signing Suh.

TBChucky
TBChucky
3 months ago

I’d love to draft Wyatt AND re-sign Suh..

seat26
seat26
3 months ago

Suh’s game as a pass rusher has gotten better over the years and the quality of his play is still amazing. At least sign him to a one-year deal. I would try to get him for 2. I know they will likely draft a DT, but you don’t know what you have until it is too late. Suh would be an excellent transitional player to help the younger guys learn the ropes.

Bucs828
Bucs828
3 months ago

The question is how much does Suh want. The monies may not be there for a part time player. If the Bucs get an explosive pass rusher type, Suh will come out on 3rd and long. He’s clearly not the same player he use to be but still strong against the run. I tend to think they make a move on some vet DT after cuts start. Suh wants more than what he can contribute as this stage in his career.

Theydidwhat
Theydidwhat
3 months ago

The Bucs will only add affordable good fit guys now until the draft. Suh, Gronk and maybe JPP want 1 year deals for $8 million when the Bucs only have 62 players signed with just $8.22 million in cap space. They only have a couple more contracts they can restructure to gain $ 20 million. They will most likely draft a DT and/ or edge, TE, RB, CB and/or safety, inside LB. The first 3 need to contribute in 2022.