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Ndamukong Suh signs with Rams. How scary is their defense now?

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Suh was cut by the Dolphins, but he has plenty left in the tank for his new team.

Buffalo Bills v Miami Dolphins Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

The biggest free agent remaining this offseason is officially off the market. Defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh has signed with the Los Angeles Rams, the team announced Monday.

It’s a one-year, $14 million deal for Suh, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

Suh was released by the Miami Dolphins amid a “culture change” earlier in March. It came halfway through a six-year deal worth more than $114 million. His average salary was the highest in the league, and though he was still one of the best players at his position in the NFL, he didn’t live up to the expectations of that deal in Miami.

Despite getting the then-richest contract for a defensive player, Suh made just one Pro Bowl in three seasons with the Dolphins. That doesn’t mean Suh has been in the middle of a big regression, however.

What will Suh bring to the Rams’ defense?

The Dolphins were hoping for more pass-rushing productivity out of Suh, a defensive tackle with a base skill set built on shedding blocks and stopping the run. He totaled 8.5 sacks in his final season with the Lions, but had just 15.5 sacks over three seasons in Miami.

Still, that number ranked him seventh among defensive tackles. Suh also brings durability and versatility to Los Angeles. He never missed a game with the Dolphins and played 83 percent of the team’s defensive snaps last season, which is very high for defensive linemen. (In fact, the only games he’s ever missed in his eight seasons in the NFL came from his most infamous moment: a two-game suspension for stomping on Packers offensive lineman Evan Dietrich-Smith in 2011.) He doesn’t rotate as much as others at his position because he’s capable of playing the end spots and nose tackle.

Perhaps the Dolphins didn’t get the return on their investment they wanted, but Suh also had four defensive coordinators in three years and faced plenty of double teams.

Moving to Los Angeles makes it extremely difficult for opposing blockers to double team him. The Rams will pair the player who used to be the league’s most disruptive defensive tackle with the player who currently is: Aaron Donald. With Suh, Donald, and Michael Brockers collapsing pockets from the inside out, the franchise boasts the league’s least-stoppable interior linemen.

That does leave questions about who will provide pressure from the edges. Having Suh’s pass rushing will help mitigate the loss of defensive end Robert Quinn, who was traded to the Dolphins this offseason. However, the team is also likely to be without useful veteran Connor Barwin (five sacks last season) and will need Matt Longacre to continue his development into a situational tool at defensive end.

But with so much interior pressure, that’s an easier problem to solve. And the additions of Aqib Talib and Marcus Peters will likely help the pass rush too.

So why did the Dolphins cut him?

Money. They’re running out of it. More accurately, they’re out of salary cap space, and when news first broke that Suh was not long for Miami, the Dolphins were over the salary cap for 2018. By designating Suh a post-June 1 cut, they saved $17 million against the 2018 cap, and can focus on taking the team in a new direction.

The Dolphins parted ways with a few big-time players, including Suh, this offseason to reportedly reset their locker room and help their chemistry.

“Suh was a fine individual player who was never really a team guy as far as the Dolphins were concerned,” The Miami Herald’s Armando Salguero wrote.

That’s an issue that evidently isn’t much of a concern for the Rams, who added Talib and Peters, a pair of cornerbacks who also have a reputation as being headstrong and difficult teammates.

The Dolphins also released longtime center Mike Pouncey and traded No. 1 receiver Jarvis Landry to the Browns. The reality is Suh was never considered a problem in the locker room, he just wasn’t a team leader.

What’s the concern for the Rams then?

Suh is 31 years old, and because he plays such a high percentage of snaps, there is some risk that he could hit the proverbial wall.

He’s also developed two very prominent tags throughout his career: dirty player and mercenary. The first may be a concern to some, as Suh has been penalized many times for unsportsmanlike conduct and unnecessary roughness. He’s lost more than $400,000 in fines or suspensions in his career, though only one of those — a $9K facemask penalty — was while he was with Miami.

The second is part of the reason the Dolphins released him. He knows the NFL is a business, and he wants to sell his services to the highest bidder. That puts off some, but it probably shouldn’t.

He got just a one-year contract, though. So it’s a low-risk, high-reward move for the Rams and a chance for Suh to prove he’s still worth big money.

By giving Suh just a one-year deal, the Rams leave plenty of future cap space to extend Donald. It’s also not the costliest contract. The New York Jets were willing to pay Suh even more, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, but Suh chose the Rams presumably because it’s a team more well equipped to compete in 2018.

With Suh added to the fold, the Rams are ready to wreck shop.