It’s been more than a year since the Detroit Lions and Ndamukong Suh have been talking about a new long-term deal.
On Monday the Lions announced they would not use the franchise tag on the Pro Bowl defensive tackle. They can still sign him to a multi-year contract. Free agency opens at 4 p.m. on March 10.
Here’s a look what’s happened in past year (or so):
— Feb. 21, 2014: Lions GM Martin Mayhew said: “I anticipate we’ll get something done. He has said he wants to be here, we’d like him to be here. That’s my mindset right now.’’ Mayhew denied rumors that the Lions would trade Suh. They were trying to extend Suh prior to the start of the 2014 free agency to free up salary cap space and just to get the deal done. They were held up after Suh fired his long-time agent at the end of the 2013 season and took months to choose a new one.
— March 7, 2014: Suh hired agent Jimmy Sexton.
— July 28, 2014: At the start of training camp, team president Tom Lewand said: “We’ve had a lot of conversations over the offseason. Every one of the contract negotiations is different. In light of where we are and most importantly in light of getting ready for the season and keeping the focus where it should be, we’ve decided to table the discussions with Ndamukong on any further discussions until after the season.’’
— Dec. 10, 2014: Suh said (and maybe he said it just to get off the subject): “It’ll be Jimmy’s decision (on where I sign), we’ll go with that. You can call Jimmy (Sexton) if you want to.’’ Same day, when asked about possibility of playing his last home game at Ford Field, Suh said, “No clue. It’s not my decision.”
— Jan. 8, 2015: In his season-ending press conference, Mayhew said about Suh: “He wants to be here and we want him to be here. As I said before that’s a pretty good combination, we’ll see how it all turns out.’’
— Jan. 8. 2015: Also, Mayhew would not rule out using the franchise tag and said, “He certainly is a big priority for us, he’s an important part of our football team the last five years. I think the world of him, had an opportunity to sit down and talk with him on Monday and had a good conversation.’’
— Feb. 1, 2015: Team president Tom Lewand appeared on WDIV’s “Flashpoint” and said: “I think there’s a very, very good chance that we can get something done with (Suh) in the next few weeks.’’
— Feb. 6, 2015: Oakland Raiders safety Charles Woodson told ESPN.com: “I don’t think there’s a team in the NFL that wouldn’t want to see Ndamukong Suh on their team. I know I would be no different. That guy is one of the best, overall, period in the NFL. Would I like him on our team? Believe it.”
— Feb. 18, 2015: Mayhew at the NFL Scouting Combine said: “It’s not done, we’re still working on it. Still very optimistic we’ll be able to get it done. I think we have a lot of the essential elements that we need to get it done in that he’s got a scheme he likes playing in, he’s got a passion for the game as you guys know, he’s got a head coach he likes playing for, he has teammates he likes playing with. We have a lot of things he wants in Detroit. Obviously we have a desire to get him signed. A lot of the important elements exist to get a contract done and we’ll keep working on it.’’
— March 2: Team announces several hours before the deadline that it will not use the franchise tag on Suh. It would have cost $26.8 million to tag him for one season. Contract talks continue.