In departure, Ndamukong Suh robs Dolphins of success once promised

Ndamukong Suh knew what was coming before the sun had even risen on the West Coast.

In departure, Ndamukong Suh robs Dolphins of success once promised

In departure, Ndamukong Suh robs Dolphins of success once promised

While apparently heading to an early Monday morning workout in his hometown of Portland, Suh posted a cryptic Twitter video.

"Stay tuned," Suh said in a measured voice while looking into the camera. "There’s going to be some exciting news going on."

Exciting if you’re Suh, that is.

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Suh not only gets to abandon the sinking ship otherwise known as the Miami Dolphins. The defensive tackle’s imminent release, which was first reported several hours later by ESPN, means Suh soon will be receiving another big-money check elsewhere after leaving South Florida having collected $60 million in a three-year span.

When the move becomes official Wednesday so the Dolphins can clear $17 million in salary-cap room, I’m waiting for another Twitter post in which Suh says, "So long, suckers."

That’s exactly what the Dolphins became three years ago when they gave Suh the largest contract ever for a defensive player.

In hindsight, the comments from Suh's introductory news conference back then are almost comical — unless you’re a Dolphins fan having just endured a 6-10 season with scant reason to believe a major turnaround is coming.

Stephen Ross, whose ownership tenure is making predecessor Wayne Huizenga’s look like Robert Kraft’s in New England, proclaimed Suh’s addition was “probably one of the great free agent signings, at least this year if not on a historical basis."

Then-general manager Dennis Hickey gushed about Suh's "unselfish nature," which is sure to draw chuckles from those inside team headquarters after the past three years. And football czar Mike Tannebaum, who has never met a big-name player he didn't want to acquire even at the expense of re-signing draft picks that should be used to build Miami’s roster foundation, said getting "a player of Ndamukong’s stature just says a lot about our organization."

It sure does.

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This isn't to say Suh was a stiff. He played in every game during his Dolphins tenure, avoiding the suspensions that came from his on-field cheap shots while with Detroit. He ranked among the NFL's top five interior linemen in tackles during all three seasons with a career-best 72 stops coming in 2016.

But after signing a five-year, $110 million deal, more was expected. Much more.

Start with Miami’s pass rush. Suh was supposed to draw enough double-team attention that others could thrive in one-on-one matchups. Yet the Dolphins posted meager sack totals of 31, 33 and 30 the past three seasons.

Suh's sack numbers in those years gradually declined from six to five to 4.5. He logged multiple sacks in a game only twice, the last time being against Cleveland in Week 4 of the 2016 campaign.

The Dolphins also would end that year ranked 30th in the NFL against the run, with opponents gouging Miami for an average of 140.4 yards a game. There was improvement in 2017, but the Dolphins still finished 19th in that category.

Again, Suh isn't to blame for all of his unit’s failings. There were issues at varying times with talent in Miami’s back seven along with four different defensive coordinators running the show.

Suh, though, simply wasn't able to take Miami to the heights expected upon his arrival. The times Suh truly took over a game and looked unblockable were few and far between.

Suh wasn’t even the NFL’s best defensive tackle during his Dolphins run. Aaron Donald of the Rams has proven far more disruptive in the same time span while playing on a much cheaper rookie contract.

While the Suh tale should be a cautionary one for other clubs entering free agency this offseason, it won’t be. An excess of cap space for most teams combined with limited talent on the market will ultimately lead to buyer’s remorse like with a Dolphins squad now saddled with $22 million in dead money.

That is not Suh's problem.

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At age 31, Suh is headed toward another large payday with more tempered expectations than when he arrived at Dolphins headquarters. Having collected $124.2 million in career earnings, Suh can choose his next team either based upon the top financial offer received or, if the two aren't congruent, the best-perceived chance of winning a Super Bowl.

That’s something from which the Dolphins arguably are even further away than they were when Suh first arrived.

Alex Marvez can be heard from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. ET Monday through Thursday on SiriusXM NFL Radio.

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