Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt set a new standard for NFL defensive players when he agreed to a six-year, $100-million contract overnight, one that could make it more difficult for the Detroit Lions to sign their pending all-pro free agent, Ndamukong Suh.
The Lions tabled contract talks with Suh before the start of training camp, but the team still hopes to sign him to a long-term deal.
Suh's rookie contract voids five days after the 2015 Super Bowl, and he's seeking a contract that makes him one of the highest-paid defensive players in the league. The Lions, so far, have balked at his salary demands.
Watt's new contract includes $51.8 million guaranteed, according to ESPN. And at a reported $16.6 million per season, it makes him the highest-paid defensive player in football.
Mario Williams and Darrelle Revis had been tied for that honor, at $16 million per year.
Suh has a $22.4-million salary cap figure this year. At $12.55 million, he's already the NFL's best-paid defensive tackle.
Watt, who started his college career at Central Michigan, arguably has been the NFL's most destructive player the last two seasons -- he had 20.5 sacks and 16 pass deflections in 2012, and 10.5 sacks last year -- and is two years younger than Suh. But Suh has the threat of free agency as leverage for a new deal.
The Texans could have controlled Watt for two more seasons with a low-cost fifth-year contract option and the franchise tag.
Both Suh and Watt are represented by CAA, the same agency that negotiated quarterback Matthew Stafford's new contract with the Lions last year.
Contact Dave Birkett: firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @davebirkett.
Original headline: J.J. Watt contract could sway Detroit Lions' plans with Ndamukong Suh
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