Coming off a surprising playoff season in 2014 the Detroit Lions have some important decisions to make in order to continue to trend upward in pursuit of their 1st Super Bowl appearance. Here’s a list of the top 3 decisions Martin Mayhew and company need to make to convert the Lions Den to the home of champions.
- The Suh Dilemma
Arguably the most dominate DT in the league is looking to get J.J. Watt and Gerald McCoy money. Odds are he’s going to get that money, just depends if the Lions can match that “magic” number. Losing Suh will cost the Lions because he already counts against their cap number to the tune of $9 million, for restructuring his contract in the past. Many fans are pleading with the team’s brass to bring him back at any cost, including the dreaded franchise tag. If the Lions slap the tag on Suh, which pretty much promises this will be his last year in Detroit, he will count a bank breaking $35 million against the cap. All the monetary sense in the world would lead you to say cut your losses and try to fill that cap with multiple personnel moves. Suh holds all the cards and it really depends on if he wants to fold (give the hometown discount) or bet the house (go to the highest bidder). As difficult as it may be the Lions need to cut ties with Suh and build the team around depth. If Suh re-signs the Lions have put the league on notice they are in a 2-3 year window of winning now at all costs. The caveat to that is the team is further away than just Suh himself can fill.
2. Is Joique Bell a full time back ?
The recent release of Reggie Bush appears to speak volumes or it could just be a couple of careless whispers. Reggie’s effectiveness was limited by nagging injuries and a line searching to solidify on the fly. Bush who started off the year as the #1 back quickly was replaced by Joique Bell who proved to be an effective option minus a few costly fumbles. Finishing the season with 860 rushing yards with 7 TDs in addition to 322 receiving yards with one receiving TD was a lot more than most thought and may have made Bush expendable. In today’s NFL a full time back is the exception and not the rule. (Please know the reference to full time back is a 20+ carry a game back) The void left by Reggie’s departure appears to be filled by Theo Riddick, but whom will complete the tandem. Local product George Winn could be part of the equation, but odds are a new back will come in to play. The favorite appears to be plucking one of many backs in this deep draft class. One that fills the gaps that your current backs don’t have, breakaway speed. You never know with the Lions; they could draft a RB with the #23 pick, pick up one in the free agent market or make the sensible decision and wait to later and find the burner they so desperately need. The latter is a decision that could have the Lions organization rejoicing for seasons to come.
3. The Lions are now on the Clock
The Lions current success could lead to their future demise. Historically, drafting has been an overall weakness for this franchise especially when they are not picking in the top 15. The recent exception occurred in 2012 where all, but one draft pick is still on a NFL roster and ironically they had the same draft position. By the time the draft comes along the dust of free agency would have settled and the path cleared towards the greatest needs of the team. That’s half the battle, given the fact this front office has prided themselves on taking the best player available regardless of position may result in another luxury pick like last year in Eric Ebron. The glaring needs at OL, DB, RB and most likely DT would appear to be the direction, but its difficult to call. If a top 3 WR is available at #23 would they pass on him to get “their guy”? Mock drafts have been all over the board from DT to RB to WR to OL, good thing the Lions rarely align to the experts opinion. Your prize possession, Stafford (money-wise) needs to be protected, so the Lions will draft in the trenches with their first pick and take the BEST AVAILABLE OL.
“Not saying its right, not saying its wrong, but I AM saying it…..and that’s the Bottom Line”