Ndamukong Suh has been one of the premier defensive tackles in the NFL for the entirety of his career, but that’s not what many football fans know him for.
They remember the dirty plays, the stomp on an arm and the questionable tackles. Suh was once voted the “dirtiest player” in the NFL by his peers. That reputation carries on with Suh despite a relative calming to his game in his current two-year stint with the Buccaneers. A lot of the production has still made it to Tampa Bay without much of the trouble.
The Buccaneers are now on the verge of the Super Bowl, and they have one of the best defensive lines in football. Suh is joined by Vita Vea inside and Shaq Barrett and Jason Pierre-Paul outside. Together, their job will be to get after Aaron Rodgers in the NFC championship game. If they carry out that duty well enough, Suh could get a chance to play in his second Super Bowl.
Why Ndamukong Suh signed with the Buccaneers
After leaving the Lions following the 2014 season, Suh spent 2015-2017 with the Miami Dolphins. Then he played for the Rams in 2018. Upon his next free agency, he signed a one-year deal with the Buccaneers for 2019.
Suh’s 2019 season with Tampa Bay included two separate fumble returns for touchdowns. Overall, he recorded 41 tackles, including seven tackles for loss.
Suh’s performance in his first Buccaneers season was enough to get him another one-year deal for the 2020 season. Playing the entire regular season at 33 years old (before turning 34 on Jan. 6), Suh had 6.0 sacks, his highest total since 2015. He finished with 44 tackles and played at least 63 percent of the defensive snaps in every game.
Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians said Suh was a “big, big part” of Tampa Bay’s 2019 defense, which is why the Buccaneers wanted to bring him back for another year.
In 2020, Tampa Bay had a defense that Arians said forced opponents to “pick your poison.” On the inside was Suh, flanked by Shaq Barrett and Jason Pierre-Paul. It’s hard to stop such a trio all at once, especially when younger defensive tackle Vita Vea is healthy, too.
“I just feel like we have one of the best rushes in football,” safety Mike Edwards told ESPN. “Our pass-rushers are crazy.”
Ndamukong Suh career timeline
April 2010: NFL Draft
Mel Kiper Jr. described Suh as “maybe the most dominating defensive tackle I’ve seen in 32 years” with Suh projected to go near the top of the draft out of Nebraska. The Rams picked Sam Bradford first overall, and the Lions followed that up by taking Suh.
In August, Suh signed a five-year, $68-million deal with Detroit. And ironically, he got his first NFL interception in October on a throw by Bradford. Suh led all rookies with 10 sacks in 2010 and was named the Sporting News Rookie of the Year.
Suh’s first three NFL fines came as a rookie, for a preseason facemask penalty, using an opponent as leverage on a field goal and for unnecessary roughness against Jay Cutler.
Nov. 24, 2011: Suh stomps on lineman
After the whistle in a Thanksgiving Day game against the Packers, Suh pushed Green Bay offensive lineman Evan Dietrich-Smith’s head into the ground three times before stomping on his arm. Suh was ejected from the game.
Suh initially said he was just trying to regain his balance, but he wrote on his Facebook page the next day that he’d “made a mistake.” Suh was suspended two games for the incident.
Nov. 22, 2012: Suh kicks Schaub in groin
Something about Thanksgiving games. Almost a year to the day after stomping on Dietrich-Smith, Suh kicked Texans quarterback Matt Schaub in the groin area. It resulted in a $30,000 fine for Suh.
Suh denied that the kick was intentional, saying that his leg moved in that direction while Suh was pulled to the ground.
2013: More penalties and fines
Suh received an $100,000 fine following Week 1, the largest fine for an on-field action in league history (not counting pay lost for suspension). It came after Suh low-blocked John Sullivan during an interception return, nullifying the touchdown. Suh’s appeal of the fine was denied.
In Week 6, Suh was fined for a questionable tackle of Browns quarterback Brandon Weeden. The fine was later rescinded upon appeal. Suh was also fined later in the season for making a throat-slashing gesture against the Buccaneers.
The 2013 season also featured Suh’s first NFL safety. On Thanksgiving, Suh sacked Packers quarterback Matt Flynn in the end zone to earn Detroit two points.
2014 Week 17: Suh steps on Rodgers
During a Week 17 game against the Packers, Suh stepped on Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers’ calf. Suh was initially given a one-game suspension, although it was reduced to a $70,000 fine on appeal, allowing Suh to sack Tony Romo twice in a wild-card game the next week.
March 11, 2015: Dolphins sign Suh
Suh signed with the Dolphins for six years and $114 million ($60 million guaranteed). It pushed him past J.J. Watt to make him the highest-paid defensive player in NFL history.
Suh’s only controversy in 2015 came when he appeared to kick running back Alfred Morris’ helmet off after a play, but the league deemed that it wasn’t a kick and didn’t discipline him. Suh recorded 61 tackles and six sacks in his first season with the Dolphins, following that up in 2016 with 72 tackles and five more sacks.
2017 Week 8: Two penalties on Suh
Suh was penalized twice for unnecessary roughness in Week 8 against the Ravens. One of the penalties came after it appeared Suh tried to choke quarterback Ryan Mallett while shoving him. Suh claimed the choke move as self-defense, saying that Mallett came for him first.
The Dolphins released Suh in March 2018, freeing a lot of salary cap room.
2018: One season with Rams
The Rams signed Suh to a one-year, $14-million contract for the 2018 season. He made it all the way to the Super Bowl with Los Angeles, thanks in part to 1.5 sacks against the Saints by Suh in the NFC title game.
Suh was fined $20,054 for a horse-collar penalty against his former team, the Lions, during the 2018 regular season. The Rams made it known early in 2019 free agency that they wouldn’t be re-signing Suh.
2019 & 2020: Relatively calm seasons with Buccaneers
Suh signed with the Buccaneers ahead of the 2019 season and re-signed for the 2020 season. He’s been one of the most consistent defensive players for Tampa Bay on unexpectedly strong defensive units.
Suh’s high-penalty ways have mostly disappeared, with only five flags thrown on him in 2019. He had 6.0 sacks in 2020, the most Suh recorded in a season since 2015.