A Realistic Free-Agent Wish List for the Detroit Lions, Based on Cap Space

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A Realistic Free-Agent Wish List for the Detroit Lions, Based on Cap Space
Tom Pennington/Getty Images

It's never a good sign when a team is talking about the draft and free agency in December.

But that's where the Detroit Lions are right now, as they currently hold a top-five pick in the draft despite preseason expectations that placed them in the bottom-five picks.

Worse yet, the Lions have a whole lot of free agents to deal with, and not a lot of money to do it. At all.

Matthew Stafford, Calvin Johnson and Ndamukong Suh alone are slated to take up over $50 million of a hard salary cap that probably won't exceed $125 million total.

And this in a year when the Lions have to either re-sign or re-build basically their entire defense. Six of the players in the Lions' starting back seven will be free agents in just a few days, as will their best pass-rusher and starting right tackle.

Still, the Lions will have some money to work with; they just need to manage it wisely. That means Martin Mayhew is going to have to do some of his best "square pegging" this offseason as he looks for guys who fit the mold at a bargain price.

Granted, it won't always be this way in Detroit, but until it has slid out from under the weight of its massive rookie contracts from years past, managing the cap is always going to be a challenge.

So with that in mind, here are some players that should be on Detroit's watch list as it starts to look toward the free-agency period in March. 

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