Last year, in what became Ndamukong Suh’s last season with the Lions, Suh stayed away from most of the offseaon program. The Lions spent plenty of time making excuses for his absences.
“I don’t understand why that would even come up as an issue,” coach Jim Caldwell said last year regarding Suh’s failure to participate in the first two phases of the offseason program and a voluntary minicamp. “He didn’t do anything wrong, he didn’t break any rules. It’s all voluntary. I don’t think it makes much sense.”
Suh eventually showed up for the OTA phase of the offseason program, which launched in late May.
This year, in what will be Suh’s first with the Dolphins, the question becomes whether he’ll show up for the early phases of the offseason program in Miami.
Officially launching on April 20, Suh isn’t contractually required to attend. No player must attend anything other than the one mandatory minicamp of the offseason. But there’s an unspoken expectation that players will volunteer to attend voluntary workouts, especially since the current labor deal shrinks the total period of time that players can work in the offseason, even if they want to work harder than that.
Team’s can create an incentive to choose to show up for the offseason program by tying significant chunks of compensation to participation in the offseason program. Suh’s massive contract, however, which pays out $59.955 million in fully guaranteed money and $114.375 million over six years includes a paltry annual workout bonus of $15,000.
Not $150,000. The bonus is a mere $15,000. Which means that Suh can shrug at the entire voluntary offseason program if he chooses, continuing to work out on his own (or not to work out on his own), showing up only for the mandatory minicamp and then for training camp.