LOS ANGELES (AP) — Decades ago, the Los Angeles Rams’ defense was fronted by the Fearsome Foursome.
With Ndamukong Suh playing alongside Aaron Donald for the Rams this fall, NFL offenses are about to experience a terrifying twosome.
Suh agreed to a one-year contract with Los Angeles on Monday, joining three-time All-Pro Donald in a remarkable defensive line pairing.
Suh was released by the Dolphins this month after three seasons in Miami. He examined several free-agent opportunities before choosing the defending NFC West champion Rams, who have revamped their already solid defense with several impressive offseason additions.
Suh’s deal in Los Angeles is worth $14 million, according to the NFL Network and ESPN.
Suh was a five-time Pro Bowl selection during his eight-year career with Detroit and Miami. Despite a history of physical play on the edge of legality and sportsmanship, he is considered one of the NFL’s most impressive defensive linemen, with 51 1/2 career sacks and excellent run-stopping ability. He also has never missed a game due to injury.
With Suh and Donald playing side by side, the Rams will have a superb foundation for defensive coordinator Wade Phillips’ 3-4 scheme. Suh, who likely will play nose tackle, and steady veteran Michael Brockers are expected to start up front alongside Donald, the AP’s Defensive Player of the Year and a four-time Pro Bowl selection.
The 31-year-old Suh has never played in a 3-4 alignment during his NFL career, but Phillips specializes in finding ways for outstanding players to shine. He is also much less likely to face double teams as a pass rusher while lining up with Donald in a partnership that will stretch most opponents’ blocking abilities to the limit.
Suh visited New Orleans and Tennessee during his free agency tour, and he was scheduled to visit Oakland before canceling last week. He attracted serious interest from the New York Jets, but they publicly rescinded their contract offer Sunday.
Instead, the Rams won over Suh last week after a visit to their training complex and a dinner in Malibu with a front-office group including coach Sean McVay and owner Stan Kroenke.
Suh likely could have made more money with the Titans or Jets, but the Rams are widely considered a team on the rise — and Suh has never won a playoff game despite strong individual performances in each of his three postseason appearances.
With Suh’s arrival on a lucrative one-year deal, the Rams have signaled their determination to compete for the Super Bowl immediately.
Los Angeles has revamped its defense with proven talent in an effort to raise its performance to the level of McVay’s offense, which led the NFL with 478 points last season in a stunning worst-to-first transformation.
Earlier this month, Los Angeles added cornerbacks Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib, who have been selected for a combined seven Pro Bowls, while retaining promising safety Lamarcus Joyner and slot cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman.
Suh is an Oregon native who starred at Nebraska before joining the Lions as the second overall pick in the 2010 draft. He became the highest-paid defensive player in NFL history at the time of his six-year, $114 million free-agent deal with the Dolphins.
Suh has repeatedly drawn the ire of opponents and officials with overaggressive play and dirty hits. He has paid numerous fines, yet his only NFL suspension was a two-game ban in 2011 during his second season for stomping on Packers lineman Evan Smith.
Talib and Peters also have been involved in their own scuffles with opponents or their own teammates and coaches. McVay’s first Rams team had no significant issues in the locker room, with the young head coach and his veteran defensive coordinator presiding over a roster with solid chemistry.