Los Angeles Rams Sign All-Pro Ndamukong Suh

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The rich just continue to get richer. In the same offseason that the defending NFC West champion Los Angeles Rams have acquired Pro Bowl cornerbacks Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib, they’ve added another big fish.

The team announced on Monday that it has signed three-time All-Pro Ndamukong Suh to a one-year contract.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports that the deal is worth $14 million over one season.

Suh, 31, was released earlier in March by the Miami Dolphins as part of a mass salary cap sell-off. The No. 2 overall pick of Detroit back in 2010, Suh has earned three First-Team All-Pro nods and five Pro Bowl appearances in his eight NFL seasons.

He will now team up with reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year Aaron Donald to form the best defensive tackle tandem in modern NFL history. Suh was reportedly also mulling offer from the New Orleans Saints and Tennessee Titans.

In a vacuum, this signing makes the Rams major Super Bowl contenders heading into the 2018 season. It also has to create a bunch of fear in opposing NFC West quarterbacks, Russell Wilson and Jimmy Garoppolo included.

It also begs one major question. How does Donald himself handle the Rams giving Suh $14 million per season? Remember, the defensive tackle held out throughout training camp and the preseason last year.

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It’s not a secret that Donald wants a raise from the $6.9 million he’s set to make in the final year of his rookie deal. Now that Suh is set to double that pay day, one has to wonder what’s going to happen behind the scenes.

After all, Suh is now among the eight highest-paid defensive tackles in terms of annual salary. Donald himself comes in at just inside the top 20.

But for now, the Rams add yet another elite-level player to a defense led by legendary coordinator Wade Phillips. That has to be music to the ears of fans in Los Angeles.

The Ndamukong Suh Sweepstakes are over.

The veteran defensive tackle officially ended his free agent tour Monday, agreeing to a one-year, $14 million deal with the Los Angeles Rams, the team announced.

“We are excited have Ndamukong as a part of the Los Angeles Rams,” General manager Les Snead said in a statement. “He’s been an outstanding player in this league and we are looking forward to him being a part of our defense.”

The five-time Pro Bowler was released by the Dolphins earlier this month, halfway through a six-year, $114 million contract that had made him the highest-paid defensive player in the NFL.

His addition is the latest move in an offseason reshaping of the Rams’ defense. Los Angeles also added cornerbacks Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib, and later traded away pass rusher Robert Quinn and linebacker Alec Ogletree.

Suh joins a defensive line that already features the reigning defensive player of the year in defensive tackle Aaron Donald, who is seeking a contract extension as he enters the fifth-year option of his rookie deal. The two will become the first pair of defensive tackles on the same team each to have at least three all-pro selections entering a season together.

Los Angeles’ defense ranked fourth in sacks last season with 48 but finished just 19th in total yards with an average of 339.6 allowed per game.

Youth Tennessee Titans Marcus Mariota Nike Navy Game Jersey

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It was a play Steve McNair, the Tennessee Titans’ last true franchise quarterback, would have made.

Marcus Mariota’s defining franchise quarterback moment may have been the 13-yard run on a broken third-and-5 play Sunday against Jacksonville to essentially clinch a playoff berth. His nasty stiff-arm that drove Jaguars safety Barry Church into the ground got all the love, but there was much more to take out of his performance than that highlight play.

“Heisman reminisce,” cornerback Logan Ryan said. “The guy is a franchise QB. Put the ball in his hands and he’ll do that. That’s what it’s about — you can’t always draw it up. It’s not always X’s and O’s. Everybody thinks we need to run more of this, do more of that. Sometimes it’s guys going out there and making plays.”

Mariota’s fourth quarter — when he had 37 more huge rushing yards and gained a first down on all four of his carries — likely would have impressed the late Titans legend, too. It was full of Mariota making plays late in a game in which his stats didn’t tell the full story.

Perhaps unintentionally, Mariota may have provided the blueprint for the Titans to pull off a postseason upset in Kansas City this weekend. Tennessee’s struggling offense hasn’t found the magic formula and it probably won’t by Saturday’s wild-card game. They need Mariota to lead them by making plays his way.

“Sometimes you gotta play backyard football. Sometimes you gotta overcome coaching,” tight end Delanie Walker said. “That’s what makes some players great when they know how to do that.”

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Walker said there’s a difference between preparation and execution. He puts the onus on his fellow offensive players to be playmakers rather than strictly following the call and scheme that have often put them in bad and predictable situations. That starts with Mariota, the Titans’ leader.
“Overcoming coaching” is what makes Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson so special sometimes. The game-defining plays don’t have to be schemed. It’s still a kid’s game played by grown men with great athleticism.

Mariota finished with 10 carries for 60 yards in Sunday’s 15-10 victory, his most carries and rushing yards since Week 6 of the 2016 season. It was a combination of called runs and scrambles, but the latter was particularly effective. Mariota converted a first down on 37 percent of his rush attempts, the highest rate in his three NFL seasons.

“That’s old Marcus, before the injury. That’s him,” defensive lineman Jurrell Casey said of the broken right leg Mariota suffered on Christmas Eve 2016. “This is the Marcus I been waiting to see — him using them legs and making things happen. We need to see that more out of him going forward.”

The Titans have often schemed in the regular season to protect Mariota, from injury and sometimes himself. Mariota has also looked reluctant to run at times. But the playoffs mean there may need to be more risk, so to speak, to get a greater reward.

“Every man needs to do whatever he can, whatever it takes, to make this thing go,” Mularkey said.

Mariota is still the Titans’ best playmaker and weapon. That could mean more calls for read-option plays and no-huddle offense, as well as more audibles and scrambles from Mariota when the defense shows an unfavorable look.

“It was just me being me. This is the time in the season where you just gotta lay it all on the line,” said Mariota, who is undergoing his worst statistical season as a pro passer mainly due to his career-high 15 interceptions and career-low 13 passing touchdowns. His ability has a runner and freelancer hasn’t seen the same regression, though.

The Las Vegas oddsmakers have the Chiefs as more than a touchdown favorite over the Titans, but Tennessee can win Saturday if backyard Mariota takes over.