While it is something the Lions are obviously not going to be happy with -- they wanted him to stay in Detroit and made him an offer commensurate with that -- they have to regroup in a quick manner if they are still going to make major moves in free agency.
That’ll now start with solidifying the interior of the defensive line, where Caraun Reid, Jermelle Cudjo and Xavier Proctor are under contract. Freeing up that contract space could also allow Detroit to add a quality player or two at cornerback, on the offensive line and potentially add some depth at running back and wide receiver.
With Suh off the board, here are some other potential options for the Lions to look at in free agency to try to start replacing him at defensive tackle.
Nick Fairley (Detroit): The Lions have had “healthy” dialogue with representatives for Fairley, according to a league source. Fairley was Detroit’s first-round pick in 2011 and is considered one of the top tackles out there now that Suh is Miami-bound. He understands Detroit’s system and played well last year before injury. His injuries and production offers some concern, though.
C.J. Mosley (Detroit): He won’t be a No. 1 tackle, but there could be room to bring him back as a starting-caliber guy now. He showed he could handle that role when Fairley was out during the second half of the season.
Kendall Langford (St. Louis): He already visited the Lions and is rumored to be hunting for a starting-caliber job. A former third-round pick of the Dolphins, the 29-year-old has 242 career tackles and 15.5 sacks.
Jared Odrick (Miami): This would almost be like a complete swap between the Lions and Dolphins, but Odrick is a talented player entering the prime of his career. In his first five seasons, the 27-year-old had 129 tackles and 16.5 sacks. He could help fill the void left by Suh.
Vince Wilfork (New England): This would have to be a short-term option for the Lions since he will be turn 34 years old in the middle of next season. But he still has talent (47 tackles last season) and is good against the run. Not as much against the pass. He would bring leadership and more of a winning culture to Detroit -- something Jim Caldwell and Martin Mayhew have stressed with free-agent signings.
Stephen Paea (Chicago): At 26, he is entering his prime and could be a good value signing. He has 94 tackles and 12 sacks in four seasons, plus has familiarity with the Lions since he played with the Bears his whole career.
Dan Williams (Arizona): The 27-year-old has been durable throughout his career, including playing all 16 games last season. He’s made 156 tackles but is more of a run stopper than someone who will help with the pass rush with only two sacks in four seasons. He could be a good plugger up the middle of the defense, though.
Terrance Knighton (Denver): This could be an interesting scenario if the Lions want to still splurge at the defensive tackle spot. Knighton is the best available tackle now that Suh is off the board, but still might be too expensive for the Lions. He’s a better run stopper than pass-rusher but is pretty adept at both.