ALLEN PARK, Mich. — The Detroit Lions are postponing contract talks with All-Pro defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh until after the season.
Suh is entering the final season of his contract, and team president Tom Lewand and general manager Martin Mayhew said before practice Monday that negotiations are being tabled. Lewand and Mayhew both expressed optimism that a deal can eventually be reached.
“He’s told me he wants to be here. I have a good relationship with him,” Mayhew said. “I know I want him to be here. I don’t know what else to tell you.”
Suh talked to reporters after practice, but he didn’t want to discuss his contract situation.
“It won’t be a distraction to me,” Suh said. “I’m just out here playing football and having fun.”
Lewand said Detroit’s salary-cap situation isn’t the reason for the delay in an agreement.
If the two sides can’t reach a deal after the season, the Lions could still keep Suh by using their franchise tag on him.
“I wouldn’t close the door on that,” Mayhew said. “Every year, we have people concerned about our ability to function under the salary cap, and thus far we’ve been able to go out in free agency every year and add to our team, make our team better. … I think the cap is going to go up next year, and probably the year after that too.”
The Lions selected Suh with the second overall pick in 2010, and he has 27 1/2 sacks in his four pro seasons.
“We have a high degree of confidence that we can work out something that’ll be mutually satisfactory at the right time, and the goal hasn’t changed in the least. But the timing is such that we think the focus needs to be on the field, starting today,” Lewand said. “There’s no adversarial nature to this decision. … I think this is what’s right for everybody.”
Coach Jim Caldwell, in his first season with the Lions, said he’s optimistic a deal will be reached.
“I’ve been around too many times where I’ve seen them all get done,” Caldwell said. “I think in this particular case, it won’t be any different.”
Suh did say he hopes teammates won’t have to keep answering questions about his future.
“I’m not going to talk about my contract. We’re going to continue to talk about football,” Suh said. “I would ask you guys not to bother my teammates about something that they have nothing involved in. For sure, definitely don’t want them to have to answer any questions about it.”
Mayhew said contract negotiations during the season can make it harder for a player to stay focused, so it’s important to put off any further discussions. He admitted these talks haven’t progressed as quickly as he expected.
“At the combine, I probably thought around the start of free agency, possibly,” Mayhew said. “After the draft, I thought probably by now. And now I think probably next year.”
The Lions sound prepared to wait until then for a resolution.
“It’s been my experience from doing this that when you can get a deal done in five minutes, the player’s not very good,” Mayhew said. “It takes a little bit of time to get good players signed, and it’s a little bit more complicated.”
NOTES: Second-round draft pick Kyle Van Noy injured his right thumb. The linebacker had a wrap on it after practice. “Obviously, we won’t know a whole lot until (Tuesday),” Caldwell said. … The Lions removed WR Golden Tate from the physically unable to perform-active list. … Detroit released DE Kalonji Kashama.