Lions shelve contract talks with Suh

ALLEN PARK, Mich. — Contract negotiations between the Detroit Lions and defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh have broken off until the end of the season.

Lions president Tom Lewand made the announcement Monday, shortly before the Lions’ first training-camp practice.

Suh is entering the final year of his original rookie deal and could become a free agent next March.

"I think it’s the right thing for us to do," Lewand said. "It’s the right thing for the team. I think it’s the right thing for everybody involved. We think the focus needs to be on the field starting today."

Asked for his reaction to the Lions’ decision, Suh said following practice, "I have no reaction. I don’t talk about my contract. I said it at the very beginning, I won’t. I’m going to keep it that way. Talk about football please."

Suh was pressed more to comment on the situation.

As for whether he wants to stay in Detroit, he said, "I’ve said it many times that I wanted to be here. No more questions to answer about that."

On his early impressions of coach Jim Caldwell, Suh said, "The new coach is great. Love every bit of him. He treats us like men."

And about his relationship with general manager Martin Mayhew and the front office, Suh added, "Great. I talk to him all the time. Nothing’s going to change."

The announcement came a day after two Lions players — Dominic Raiola and Stephen Tulloch — were both peppered with questions about Suh’s contract status during a news conference.

Lewand said that he has had "productive conversations" with Suh’s agent, Jimmy Sexton.

"I remain tremendously confident that we can work out something that will be mutually satisfactory," Lewand said. "The goal hasn’t changed in the least."

Mayhew confirmed that the Lions initiated the halt in negotations.

"I would say it was our decision," Mayhew said. "I think we’re on the same page, though."

Mayhew, who had previously indicated that he thought Suh would be signed by now, said he also remains optimistic that a deal will get done despite the delays.

"He’s told me he wants to be here," Mayhew said. "I know I want him to be here."

Asked why the deal didn’t get done before training camp, Mayhew characterized the negotiations as "complicated."

The fact the Lions already have two high-priced stars in quarterback Matthew Stafford and receiver Calvin Johnson doesn’t make matters easier in reaching an agreement with Suh.

Mayhew dismissed the idea that the Lions would consider trading Suh at this point.

If they’re unable to reach an agreement after the season, the Lions could keep Suh from entering the free-agent market by using a "franchise tag" on him, but that would be at a price of more than $26 million for the one-year contract in 2015.

Mayhew, however, didn’t rule out using that franchise tag on Suh, saying that the NFL salary cap is expected to increase.