Bill Polian: Ndamukong Suh Loss/Return More Important Than Gronk

July 4th, 2022

A Hall of Fame general manager who talked to Bucco Bruce Arians nearly every week during the past two seasons might rattle a few Bucs fans with his latest take.

Bill Polian was on SiriusXM NFL Radio last week assessing the Bucs’ moves and non-moves in free agency. He’s not a Bucs-hater in any way, but Polian has no confidence in defensive tackle manbeast Akiem Hicks. That’s who the Bucs paid handsomely to replace Ndamukong Suh.

Suh, 35, wanted to return but the Bucs passed. Hicks will earn about $8 million in his place.

“I don’t know, [Hicks] had an awful year with the Bears ending in what amounted to a suspension because he refused to play. Is he Ndamukong Suh? No. I think that they’re return to the Super Bowl is dependent on Gronk playing one more year and Suh playing one more year, otherwise they’ve taken kind of a step back,” Polian said.

“But if those two guys come back, particularly Suh — they can get by without Gronk, it’s not ideal, but they can get by without Gronk. But Hicks is not Suh in my mind.”

For the record, Hicks was not suspended, but he did seemingly quit on his final week of the season after an altercation with a position coach.You can read the NBC report here. Joe’s not concerned by that at all, especially with the rebuilding Bears just days away from hiring their new head coach and general manager.

As for Polian, he’s a legend, but it feels like he’s overvaluaing Suh here in a big way.

Remember, the Bucs won the Super Bowl with Vita Vea missing most of the 2020 season, and Hicks is a major talent when he can stay healthy.

If given a choice, Joe would take Gronk over Suh for the 2022 season in a heartbeat.

34 Responses to “Bill Polian: Ndamukong Suh Loss/Return More Important Than Gronk”

  1. Beeej Says:

    Suh just wasn’t all that effective. Would still be an asset to the team, but I’m sure he’s demanding another $7-8 million

  2. Goatfarmer Says:


  3. Joe in Michigan Says:


  4. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    OK, TBBF was concerned….most of the day passing without the obligatory Gronk-a-day article……but voila, here it is!!! WHOOPEE!!!

    As for Suh & Gronk….we have the money to at least bring in one of them….but I’d rather pick up a TE & Edge Rusher…..

  5. Pickgrin Says:

    Bucs are already taking a $6.8M dead cap hit for Suh this year due to “financial wizardry” the previous 2 years.

    Gronk is already a $5M dead cap hit this year for the same reason.

    Re-signing either would allow the Bucs to continue kicking the can down the road to some extent – but in Suh’s case – it would have to be for the right price.

    Maybe $3.8M + incentives or similar. That’s really all he can probably command at 35 and with last year’s tape causing the Bucs to not make any rush or priority at all of bringing him back. In fact – they highly drafted what they believe may be Suh’s replacement.

    That, plus Suh is probably taking the “don’t talk to me about anything less than $7M” stance…. means Donkey Kong is still “available” as a free agent.

    Gronk will be back for 1 more year and the Bucs have to hold on to roughly $10M for that eventuality.

  6. CleanHouse Says:

    exactly- this guy speaks truth here- Jason Licht getting cute

  7. SB~LV Says:

    Hmmmm certainly debatable
    The unspoken communication between Lumbering Gronk and TB is deadly

  8. Joe in Michigan Says:

    “Jason Licht getting cute”? Have you paid attention to what the Bucs did the last 2 years? Was it worth a cap hit? If you say no, are you special needs?

  9. Anonymous Says:

    Bring back Gronk or Suh? ….why don’t we just move on from the both of them, hence no need to ponder the thought!

  10. CleanHouse Says:

    Joe in Michigan- Honestly, I don’t understand all the math stuff. But it seems teams find a way to make what they want happen happen. I figure this is the last chance w Brady. I think Suh is an essential part to us winning another Super Bowl. Apparently Licht do wasn’t think so. I think he’s wrong. He thinks he can plug and play Suh and he can’t. Same with JPP and Gronk- all 3 are unique, massively talented NFL stars who may have one more go in the tank.
    My humble opinion ✌🏼 Happy 4th

  11. sasquatch Says:

    Hicks is a better player than Suh at this stage of their careers from everything I’ve gathered. Only question is staying healthy.

  12. Defense Rules Says:

    ‘Remember, the Bucs won the Super Bowl with Vita Vea missing most of the 2020 season, and Hicks is a major talent when he can stay healthy.’

    Yes Joe, the Bucs won the SB in 2020 with Vea missing most of the season BECAUSE THEY HAD SUH. Take away Suh in 2020 and we wouldn’t have even made the playoffs.

    And agree that Hicks is a major talent WHEN HE CAN STAY HEALTHY, but that caveat wasn’t worth diddly in 2019 OR 2021. And now Hicks is a year older.

    Polian knows what he’s talking about. Without Suh our defense will be a middle-of-the-pack defense this season, and not SB caliber. With Suh AND Vea AND Hicks it’ll be unstoppable, because you could almost always have 2 of the 3 on the DLine for every play. Throw in Gholston & RNR & our rookie Hall to round it out, and no one will run on that group, plus the pass rush could pretty much stay fresh. This is our year; don’t blow it by going cheap now.

  13. Wild Bill Says:

    Suh still has some gas in his tank as a run stuffer but not the force he used to be. Same for JPP. Time takes its toll. And both were gassed late in the season. Too much salary for part time play.

  14. Wade Landry Says:

    BP is …off on this one. Suh as an addition to what is would be nice,GRONK would be off the hook great…no comparison with regards to Impact

  15. Defense Rules Says:

    Beej … ‘Suh just wasn’t all that effective.’

    Several folks keep saying that, yet he led our entire DLine in any number of categories, including sacks, QB Hits, def snaps, games played, and a number of other key stats. I’d say that’s pretty good return on investment, especially for a 34-year-old.

    And folks should stop ASSUMING that they know how much Suh is asking to play in 2022. That’s what NEGOTIATIONS are all about.

  16. Joe in Michigan Says:

    CleanHouse: I get your point. I like all of the players you mentioned, but sometimes the Bucs can’t/don’t choose to bring guys back. I’d rather have Gronk back, but that’s not guaranteed. We’ll see. The good thing is, nowadays if the Bucs have an injury, they’ll work to get a player they need in a trade, unlike the noncompetitive years.

  17. A Bucs Fan Says:

    @Defense Rules Genuine question. Why was he the lowest rated DL on the Bucs last year if his impact was so large in 2021? His play dropped 30 measurable points in PFF grade from 2020 to 2021. Behind McLendon, Nacho, and even Pat O’Connor?

  18. Chris Tucker@Apple Roof Cleaning Tampa Says:

    Suh overvalued his worth, that’s why he is unsigned

  19. HC Grover Says:

    Nahhh just another sport pundit. Almost as good as CNN.

  20. Defense Rules Says:

    A Bucs Fan … Can’t say that I really follow PFF grading. What I do know is that Suh had 717 def snaps, 6 sacks & 13 QB Hits in 2021. RNR, McLendon & O’Connor TOGETHER had 713 def snaps, 1 sack & 11 QB Hits. Seems obvious to me that our DC thought more of Suh than he did PFF grades.

    Were Suh’s 2021 numbers less than what he did in 2020? Most assuredly. Was he still a force to be reckoned with in 2021? IMO … most assuredly. Do I think that our defense will regress this season from its’ 2020 & 2021 rankings WITHOUT Suh in there? You guessed it … most assuredly.

  21. SPARKY Says:

    We need Gronk back one more year or half a year. I hear you guys talk about Gronk against the Rams. 5 catches on 10 targets. Don’t the 10 targets tell you who Brady trusted? He gave up on everybody else but Evans and Lenny so he was forcing it to Gronk Evans when he was covered

  22. Tbtb12 Says:

    I believe in all things “Defense Rules”. Thanks for the input

  23. tampabayallday Says:

    is there no room for a Suh/Vea/Hicks lineup?

  24. Buczilla Says:

    I love Vea, but he is injury prone and can’t play a lot of snaps for the gods only know what reason. Hicks is fragile. Both are outstanding when healthy, but history has sbown that counting on these dudes for a full season is sheer lunacy. Polian is right and I think that we need Suh in a bad way. We need Gronk back too, a legit third string receiver, an outside corner whom the coaches trust and isn’t always hurt to start opposite Carlton, and another pass rusher to step in, just in case Tryon struggles. I have no clue how to accomplish all of this, but it’s why Licht (best gm in the league by far) makes the big loot. 😜

  25. Adrnagy Says:

    Who is going to replace suh mindset/leadership/ attitude / consistency ?

    Logan hall a rookie ?
    Hicks , first year on bowles defense?

    Also , i would take gronk now bcuz godwin is hurt, gage is a rookie in this offense. Two rookie TE.
    But in general complete team ill take suh.

  26. stpetebucsfan Says:

    I suppose we are talking soley about stopping the run, stuffing the middle of the line.

    Sacks should not be a problem this year…Suh…Hicks…or Vea notwithstanding.

    I get that pressure up the middle helps everybody get their numbers but we have some talented guys.

    JTS only started 6 games last year. I realize we are talking two different positions…OLB and the middle of the line…but JTS had 4 sacks and 10QB hits and 5 tackles for a loss. If he simply plays the same as he did his rookie year he’ll get double digits sacks and chase QB’s all over the place. Many think he will actually improve this year!

    Logan Hall is pure hustle…although apparently not really strong enough to play in the middle even though he’s 6’6″ 280. He’s kind of a tweener…speed and effort but his length may hamper him for the middle.

    Seems to me we’d be fine if it was for the “availability” concerns. Both Vea and Hicks have already missed a significant number of games. That was the beauty of Suh…you could pencil him into the lineup EVERY week. Don’t really know if there’s been more of an ironman in the middle of the DL over the past decade.

  27. Beeej Says:

    Suh had 13 solo tackles, 8 assists, 6 sacks, PFF of 49.4.

    $3-4 million, mebbe

  28. Goatfarmer Says:

    Defense Rules – I wish Jason Licht would read some of your posts and SIGN SUH.

  29. A Bucs Fan Says:

    @Defense Rules. Fair assessment and Suh definitely was an ironman at his position. However, I felt that he was being exposed at the end of the year as a weakness. Especially against the run.

    Do you think it’s unreasonable or unwise to believe that Logan Hall and Akiem Hicks can replace those 700 snaps and production between them? Thats 350 snaps, 3 sacks, 6.5 QB hits.

  30. BucBrady Says:

    Anyone objective can look at this team and see that they took a step back this offseason. Had the Bucs stayed healthy at key positions down the stretch I believe they’d have hoisted the Lombardi trophy last year—I can’t say that for this up-coming season. They’ll still make the playoffs, but trying to go to the Super Bowl is going to be a significantly harder task than last year. Between the arduous schedule and the roster losses, I expect a few more Ls on the year.

  31. Jerseybuc Says:

    They are trying to hit a home run with Hicks since his upside is so high. Problem is he can’t stay on the field and his character has to come into play for what happened last year in Chicago. Give me a guy you can count on week in and week out who is available and ready to play. Haven’t we learned our lesson with Desean Jackson AB not wanting to play and multiple DBs who failed drug tests and couldn’t be counted on? Best ability is availability.

  32. kyle Says:

    sorry but Polian has become a rambling old guy that is usually wrong with his takes.

  33. rrsrq Says:

    Polian with a grain of old school salt thought, he told Lamr to go play receiver and he couldn’t make it as an NFL QB prior to the draft, we all have misses and I think, though I am no expert, he misses on this one too, did he mention “the Brady effect” that has already taken place witha player like Hicks

  34. Defense Rules Says:

    A Bucs Fan … ‘Do you think it’s unreasonable or unwise to believe that Logan Hall and Akiem Hicks can replace those 700 snaps and production between them?’

    No I don’t think it’d be unreasonable, IF that’s the way it worked. But it won’t be. Bucs will need to replace over twice that many snaps.

    Bucs lost THREE guys who played quite a bit of DLine: Suh (717 snaps), McLendon (253 snaps) AND JPP (who logged 601 snaps last season, SOME of which were on the DLine, and some as an OLB). None of those 3 are currently on the roster, so all of their snaps must be replaced (1,571 def snaps among them).

    Bucs have added Hicks & Hall to the DLine AND to the OLB corps. That’s it; all the rest were here last season: Vea (607 snaps), Gholston (507 snaps), RNR (415 snaps), O’Connor (45 snaps), Shaq (767 snaps), Nelson (358 snaps), Gill (100 snaps). Pretty good chance that those 7 will make the roster again (who else do we have?), plus Hicks & Hall (personally think Bucs will carry 10, but I’m also convinced we’ll ultimately re-sign Suh, so what do I know).

    Hicks is a suitable substitute for Suh in the middle of our DLine, but I still don’t see Hall in THAT role this year (in future years if he beefs up & gets stronger … possibly). Bucs must have 2 beasts in the middle on virtually every play for run defense AND/OR pass rush. That’s very close to 2,200 def snaps on the season for those 2 mid-interior positions. Vea, Hicks, Gholston, RNR TOGETHER won’t provide that much (last season Suh AND McLendon AND some JPP were in Hicks’ spot). And this is BEFORE we even start talking injury losses.

    IF the Bucs are truly all-in for 2022, they’d better re-sign Suh before someone else does.