The Lions have done a fairly good job of cutting down their cap issues, going from being over the $123 million cap to being at just under $118 million.
With just over $3 million in cap space, they aren't exactly in a position to break the bank, and have some very key players out in free agency.
It appears as though Louis Delmas is on the way out, as are Sammie Lee Hill and Cliff Avril. However, Chris Houston has been awfully quiet and there are plenty of Reggie Bush-to-Lions rumors floating around the Internet.
How the Lions balance all that out will be very intriguing over the next few days.
Here are the folks who either have the interest of the Lions or look like they are out the door.
On the Way Out
Cliff Avril— Multiple teams seem to be in the hunt for the free-agent defensive end, most recently the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (via mlive.com). The Colts are also in the hunt (via Aaron Wilson, RavensInsider).
Louis Delmas—The oft injured safety is heading to St. Louis to test the waters and it looks as though the Lions are fine with that (via profootballtalk).
Back or on the Way Back
Kassim Osgood—Osgood is more of a special teams guy, but could see some offensive work with the Lions very thin at receiver. He signed a one-year deal on Tuesday (via profootballtalk).
Amari Spievey—Spievey has had concussion issues, but was very good when healthy between 2010 and 2011. With Delmas possibly gone, Spievey could see some time if he stays healthy. Reports are this is a one-year contract, but not an RFA tender (via Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free-Press).
Rumor Has It
Glover Quin—The former Texan is slated to visit the Lions this week (blog.chron.com). With the Lions likely losing Louis Delmas, Quin makes an interesting possibility as he really blossomed moving from cornerback to safety.
According to NFL Network and NFL.com reporter Ian Rapoport, Chris Houston and the Detroit Lions have agreed to terms.
As Houston isn't flying in until tonight and won't sign until Thursday, financial details have not been provided.
Here are a few tidbits that make me think this deal is going to be cap-friendly.
First of all, MLive.com's Anwar Richardson Tweeted out the following quote from Houston:
I wanted to see what was out there, but with the market being flooded with corners, there wasn’t much positive out there.
That tells me that with the market flooded, he didn't have anything to try and leverage a better deal from the Lions with. That doesn't mean he won't be well paid because he will. Just that in a thinner secondary market, he might have been able to make a team overpay.
And while this is complete supposition, I think it's safe to say that Houston will be signing the three year deal Richardson discussed yesterday, which will allow the Lions to spread his cap hit out over several years.
We'll have more details on this here, probably tomorrow or the day after, but I'd imagine this is a very cap friendly deal.
Josh Katzenstein of the Detroit News is reporting this is actually a five year deal. Still no report on the money, but I'm even more certain that this will be a very cap friendly deal, at least for this year.
*****UPDATE NUMBER 2*****
Yahoo's Jason Cole is reporting some numbers on the deal and they look like a win-win for both sides. According to Cole, the deal is a five year, $35 million contract with $15.5 million in the first three years.
Again, we don't know where the money comes down this year, but this looks pretty cap friendly to me.
Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press is reporting (via Twitter) that Ndamukong Suh will be restructuring his contract in order to help the team sign more free agents.
While Birkett doesn't have details, this is good news for Lions fans no matter how much it does or doesn't save.
First of all, any money they can get back from their bigger contracts is a good thing and necessary given how many free agents they have, forget how many they'd like to go after.
If Suh restructuring his contract will allow them to even sign one more player, it's tremendous.
Secondly, for all the crap people give Suh about how he plays and whether he is a leader or not, this is a leadership move and you have to respect it.
Sure, Suh won't be playing for free—he'll still be amply provided for and probably not take less—just take it on a different schedule. That said, he doesn't have to do this. He chose to, in part because he must realize that if the team is to be better they need more and better players.
Which is just smart.
As we get details on what this restructuring, we'll add it here.
According to Pro Football Talk, Bush's contract is a four years for $16 million dollars.
Considering Shonn Greene just grabbed a three year, $10 million dollar contract from the Titans, Bush looks to be a bargain.
Here's how Florio broke down the rest:
Per a source with knowledge of the deal, Bush signed a four-year, $16 million contract with the Lions. The deal includes a $4 million signing bonus and a $1 million base salary in 2013, a $3.5 million base salary in 2014, a $3.25 million base salary and a $250,000 roster bonus in 2015, and a $3.75 million base salary and $250,000 roster bonus in 2016.
The cap charges in 2013 will be only $2 million. Next year, it moves to $4.5 million. In 2015, it will be $4.5 million again, with a cap number of $5 million in 2016.
Assuming the numbers play out like that, it's pretty much how I expected these signings today to look. Light this year, heavy the next few.
Reggie Bush for $2 million against the cap in 2013?
Of course, when you load these things like this you know you'll be dealing with it down the road. That's next year's problem though, and one which the restructuring of Stafford and Suh's contracts could help.
It started with rumors a few months ago, continued with an arrival at the facility in a white limo and ended with a pen placed on paper.
Reggie Bush is a Lion and will be for the next four years according to DetroitLions.com's Tim Twentyman.
Contract details aren't forthcoming, though we may hear more at the press conference at 1:45pm EST.
Still, as with Chris Houston's contract, spacing the money over multiple years is smart and will likely buy the team time to get the rest of their cap situation in order.
Suh has already worked on restructuring his contract while Matt Stafford is expected to as well.
Bush is a huge weapon for this offense and will be well worth the money.
We'll be back with details on the money when they appear.
Nobody has firm numbers, but Dave Birkett of the Free Press is saying the expectation on Bush was about $5 million a year.
Again, something that would be very cap friendly if structured right.
After a little confusion, Tim Twentyman of DetroitLions.com says former Texan Glover Quin has signed with the team.
As has been the case all day, financial terms have yet to be disclosed, but Twentyman (who, after all works for the team website and who was retweeted by the team) says it was a five year deal.
Which means that more than likely, the pain will be spread across the first few years and this year's cap hit might be minimal.
It also makes me seriously doubt that we'll see Louis Delmas back in Lions blue.
I'll circle back with contract details if/when we get them.
According to Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun (and of course these are only the rough edges of the deal), Jones' signed a three year deal worth $9.5 million, with a $2.5 million bonus.
To truly know how much this affects the cap, we'll have to wait a bit and see what is guaranteed, where the money is spread out and what the cap impact is this year versus the next two.
That said, given what we've seen so far this week, the Lions are likely to have a light cap load in 2013, and dump the rest in the last two years.
I'll fill in more details as they emerge.
So according to Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio, the deal is what we thought it was above—three years for $9.5 million with a $2.5 million signing bonus.
Or as PFT says, for $1 million less than they paid Cliff Avril. If, as we discussed the other day and Dave Birkett of the Free Press basically confirmed this morning, he plays defensive end, the Lions may have replaced Avril with an effective guy who costs less.
Which, as much of the deals have the last few days, helps with the cap issues.
The good news is, the Lions ended up with more money under the cap than they started with.
According to Justin Rogers of MLive.com, the Lions have about $4 million under the cap—and that's without a Matt Stafford contract adjustment.
Rogers says he might have skunked the math on the offsets from the veteran's minimum so it could be as high as $5 million. And again, we might see an adjustment in Stafford's salary.
The big hero is Ndamukong Suh, who had his massive cap hit and overall salary moved around to free up room to add guys like Reggie Bush and bring back guys like Chris Houston.
The downside is that Suh's cap hit, according to Rogers, is about $21 million.
I hate the idea of robbing Peter to pay Paul—I've railed on the Miami Dolphins for loading their 2014 cap with more than $30 million in cap dollars for just a few players—so this does make me uneasy.
You can continue to juggle balls like this, but at some point you run the risk of them dropping. The Lions had best not require any free agent help in 2014 because I'm not sure how they'll afford it.
They also did something similar with Calvin Johnson this year—which is a great move by him because that contract isn't old.
Again though, pushing money ahead a year or so is fine, it's just a little scarier on larger quantities.
Still, they did what they had to this year, with a little left over for rookies and perhaps a few small signings.