5-Time Pro Bowler Makes Final Decision on Return to Buccaneers

Todd Bowles

Getty Defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh is unlikely to re-sign with the Buccaneers.

A five-time Pro Bowler and six-time All-Pro selection is opening up regarding a possible return to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Ndamukong Suh, who had been a starter for the Buccaneers since the 2019 season, appeared on NFL Live on Monday, June 20, and essentially ruled a return to Tampa Bay out of the equation, via Adam Schefter of ESPN.

“And NdamukongSuh on ESPN2’s NFL Live, on where he might be in the future: ‘It looks like the Bucs are out of the picture.’ But Suh did say he would like to continue playing,” says Schefter.

While the 35-year-old likely won’t be returning to the Buccaneers, he did reveal his desire to continue playing for a 13th season.

“I think I have a lot of great talent in my engine and people have felt that before.”

Suh Had Desired Return to Buccaneers

The veteran defensive tackle had previously stated his desire to return to the Buccaneers for a fourth season. However, once Tampa Bay signed free agent defensive tackle and former Pro Bowler Akiem Hicks to a one-year deal worth $10 million, the writing was on the wall for the end of Suh’s tenure.

Suh had hinted at a return to the Buccaneers back in March after Todd Bowles was named the new head coach of Tampa Bay.

“Congrats to Todd Bowles on becoming head coach of a great team that still feels one man light on talent,” Suh wrote on Twitter.

The former No. 2 overall draft pick started every game for the Buccaneers last season and never missed a single game during his three seasons in Tampa Bay. In fact, Suh has missed just two games across 12 seasons in the league.

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Suh’s Play Regressed Last Season

During his three seasons with the Buccaneers, Suh posted 14.5 total sacks. While his sack total remained the same in 2021 as the previous season — six sacks each year — he posted just 27 tackles and 13 quarterback hits in 2021, a decline from his 2020 totals of 44 tackles and 19 quarterback hits.

According to Pro Football Focus, Suh’s play regressed in a major way last season. Suh posted just a 49.4 defensive grade and a 50.2 run defensive grade. Not only were they the worst grades of Suh’s career, they ranked among the worst of all interior linemen in the NFL.

In fact, among defensive tackles with at least 700 snaps, Suh posted the second-worst defensive grade and run defensive grade of any interior lineman.

By comparison, Hicks is not only nearly three years younger than Suh, he posted significantly higher grades than Suh. The 32-year-old defensive tackle posted a 72.3 defensive grade and a 66.0 run defensive grade with the Chicago Bears last season. Hicks’ defensive grade ranked 23rd among all interior linemen.

Considering Suh earned $9.25 million in 2019, $8 million in 2020 and $9 million in 2021, it’s fair to assume the veteran lineman is expecting a similar type of deal in free agency. With the Buccaneers already filling their holes on the defensive line, there’s little point in paying Suh the same type of money to be a backup behind Hicks and holdover Vita Vea.

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