Detroit Lions could move to 3-4 if Ndamukong Suh bolts; Jim Caldwell doesn't want to think about ithttp://www.mlive.com/lions/index.ssf/20 ... to_3-.html
Kyle Meinke | firstname.lastname@example.org
By Kyle Meinke | email@example.com
on February 20, 2015 at 4:59 AM, updated February 20, 2015 at 5:00 AM
INDIANAPOLIS -- The Detroit Lions have run a 4-3 defense for years, and invested heavily in acquiring a dominant defensive line to support it. That includes spending first-round picks to draft Ndamukong Suh, Nick Fairley and Ezekiel Ansah in a four-year period.
Now two of those guys are eligible to become free agents in fewer than three weeks. And one of those guys is Suh, the anchor of Detroit's second-ranked defense.
What would that unit look like without him?
"I hope not to have to find that out," Caldwell told a handful of Detroit reporters on Thursday at the NFL combine. "But if we do, obviously, we'll have to cross that bridge when it comes."
The Lions have been effusive in their optimism regarding the Suh negotiations, and Caldwell was no different. He noted Suh has been hanging around Detroit a lot this offseason.
"I haven't seen him around the facility. I know he's been in town," Caldwell said. "That's one of the unique things about him. You can tell that he loves the city because he's around in Michigan quite a bit here of late."
But Caldwell also acknowledged there's a possibility Suh could walk.
The defensive tackle will be the league's most coveted free agent if he's allowed to hit the open market March 10, and could command somewhere around $100 million. A team such as the Oakland Raiders, with more than $50 million in cap room, could make a serious play for him.
"Do we look at it and think about (him leaving), because it's a possibility?" Caldwell said. "There's no question about that."
If Suh does walk, the entire makeup of the Lions' defense could change.
Their scheme is built around a dominant defensive line. Without Suh, Detroit could entertain the possibility of transitioning into a 3-4. The Lions have a defensive coordinator, Teryl Austin, who coached in a 3-4 during stops in Baltimore and Arizona. And they have a log jam at linebacker, with DeAndre Levy, Stephen Tulloch, Tahir Whitehead, Ashlee Palmer and Kyle Van Noy all vying for a role.
Caldwell, though, wouldn't say much about the possibility of moving to a 3-4.
"Like I said, I hope not to have to deal with some of those issues," he said.