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Victor Oladipo, Pacers

Why letting Ndamukong Suh walk in free agency is the right decision for the Rams

The Los Angeles Rams have had a quieter offseason than last year’s, but they’ve still added key pieces to their defense. Last offseason, the Rams broke the NFL news cycle by trading for Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib, while also signing Ndamukong Suh.

Fast forward to now, and the Rams are likely to be moving forward without Suh on the roster after just one season. Suh signed a one-year, $14 million deal with Los Angeles last offseason.

When the Rams signed Suh, everyone believed they would boast the best defensive line in the league. Truthfully, with Aaron Donald, Michael Brockers, and Suh, that should be the best defensive line in football.

At least on paper that is. In 2018, Los Angeles totaled 41 sacks as a team over the course of the season. At first glance, that doesn’t seem too bad, but you have to consider that Donald had 20.5 of them himself.

There wasn’t much production along the defensive line or off the edge for the Rams outside of Donald. Last season, Suh had just 4.5 sacks and just four tackles for loss with Los Angeles.

Those numbers are concerning, considering that Donald garnered double-teams in just about every snap he played. Therefore, Suh was seeing one offensive lineman in front of him for the majority of the time.

One issue with Suh was that he didn’t fit Wade Phillips’ 3-4 defensive scheme. Suh was forced into playing the nose-tackle position—even though he’s played the 4-3 defensive tackle position his whole career.

The roles for those two positions are vastly different. In a 3-4, a nose-tackle is relied upon to be the run stopper on the defense. Similarly, in a 4-3 system, you’re expected to be capable of playing the run but you also see more opportunities to rush the passer—which is what Suh excels at.

I understand fans were excited to see a talent like Suh join forces with Donald—who wouldn’t be? But trying to fit Suh on this defense is like trying to fit a square peg into a round hole.

That’s why letting Suh walk in free agency is ultimately the best choice for the Rams. Although, the Rams do need to address the nose tackle position this offseason still.

Even if Suh was willing to take a huge pay cut to remain with the Rams, the answer should still be no to keeping him. His lack of ability to stop opposing rushing attacks makes him nearly useless in the Rams’ defensive scheme over the course of a 16-game season.

Consequently, the Rams had the 23rd ranked run defense in the NFL in 2018. There’s no doubt that the veteran defensive tackle playing nose tackle was part of the problem.

I’m not going as far as to say that it was a disaster bringing in Suh, but it didn’t go as expected. Although, the Rams did reach the Super Bowl with Suh on the roster, so you could make the argument it was a success.

Regardless, the Rams should move on from Suh in hopes to find their long-term solution at the nose tackle position. The draft should be where the Rams look for their replacement for the talented defensive tackle in Suh.