I was reading an interesting article today in Forbes and it brought a crazy fact to my attention. When you think of the highest paid players in the NFL, who do you instantly think of? I’m sure most people immediately thought of some of the big named Quarterbacks such as Russell Wilson and Andrew Luck, but what if I were to tell you that among that list is actually a Defensive player?
Newly signed Tampa Bay Buccaneers Defensive Tackle Ndamukong Suh has proven to be one of the most successful players to ever sign a contract when it comes to ensuring he gets paid, and he’s showing that he’s not merely an extremely talented athlete, but someone who looks at the long term picture when it comes to life after football.
Suh quickly became one of the most decorated players in college football history, winning numerous awards including the Associated Press College Football Player of the Year Award, Bronko Nagurski Trophy, Chuck Bednarik Award, Lombardi Award, and the Outland Trophy.
In 2010, Suh was able to use this collegiate success to increase his draft stock and was subsequently drafted 2nd overall by the Detroit Lions. Using the fact that he was drafted so high, and knowing that because of his agent’s other clients, there was a fear he might hold out signing his contract, Suh was able to negotiate a rookie deal with the Lions that paid him $68 million dollars over 5 years in $40 million of that guaranteed.
You might think with a near $70 million dollar career that Suh might be content simply going to a team that would give him the best opportunity to win a championship, but instead, at the end of his contract with the Lions, Suh opted to sign with the Miami Dolphins. The Dolphins offered Suh a contract he simply couldn’t pass up, as they were willing to pay him $114 million dollars over 6 years with $60 million of that guaranteed. Ultimately, the Dolphins parted ways with Suh after only 3 seasons, but his latest guaranteed contract had made him the highest NFL player up to that point and put more than $100 million dollars in his bank.
Upon being released by the Dolphins, Suh now had the opportunity to chase after what had been evading him through his career, a Super Bowl Championship, so when the Rams made him an offer of $14 million dollars for a single season, it not only made good football sense, but also made great financial sense, as Suh was able to secure a little more money towards his life after he walks away from the game.
Not only did his efforts to win a championship not exactly end up as he had hoped, but he had chosen to sign with a team located in a State with one of the highest tax rates in the entire country. This may or may not have had anything to do with his leaving California, but given his shrewd financial decisions up to this point in his career, it’s hard to imagine that it didn’t at least cross his mind at some point.
At 32 years of age, Suh knows that his time as an NFL player is slowly winding down, as no matter how much money one makes, they simply can’t stop the impact the game has on the human body. It’s because of this, that it only made sense for Suh to sign with a team that not only was willing to pay him, but was willing to pay him in a State that has no State Income Tax, thus allowing him to keep even more of his money than he had been able to had he stayed in California.
Enter the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and their offer of $10 million dollars for a single season, and while not quite as much as he had been paid last season with the Rams, the notion of not paying income tax had to be appealing to someone who has made great business based decisions throughout his NFL career, and only proved yet again why Suh has become the second highest paid NFL player of all time who isn’t a Quarterback. He is already the highest paid Defensive player of all time raking in $139 million up to this point. He will likely add $10 or more million to that figure with Tampa.
If Suh can prove his importance to the Buccaneers and new Head Coach Bruce Arians, it’s quite possible that we see him extend his career at least a couple more seasons, and add a few more zeros to his already impressive financial portfolio, and maybe even making him the highest paid non-quarterback in NFL history, while finally adding that missing piece, and helping the Buccaneers bring home that elusive Lombardi Trophy and his first NFL Championship.