If anyone doubted the new Lions regime this time a year ago, perhaps the last 24 hours have helped change some minds.
General Manager Martin Mayhew and head coach Jim Schwartz have made the most noise thus far in free agency. Shortly after the 12 a.m. start on March 5, Schwartz was in Nashville waiting in his car outside of Kyle Vanden Bosch’s subdivision, while Mayhew and Tom Lewand were working out the details of a deal for Seahawks wide receiver Nate Burleson.
Two hours before the frenzy began, Detroit pulled off what seems on the surface like an excellent trade by sending a fifth-round pick to Cleveland for Defensive Tackle Corey Williams and a seventh-round selection.
There’s a chance the Lions might have another signing or two up their sleeves. Regardless, it seems that William Clay Ford has opened up the checkbook a little more than usual.
Perhaps the best part of all is the flexibility they now have entering the War Room in late April. One school of thought says to stay put and take either Ndamukong Suh or Gerald McCoy. The other, gaining steam after these recent signings, is to trade down and pick up an extra pick or two this year or next while they continue fixing the mess Matt Millen left them.
Detroit fans should be, for the first time during any offseason in recent memory, genuinely excited. A closer look reveals a 2011 season still undefined, but it appears things are headed toward a significant cut from the current $128 million salary cap. So, these signings are beneficial on many levels.
None of new contracts will handcuff the Lions if the cap is cut to, say, somewhere in the $105-$110 million range. Tom Lewand reaffirmed why he’s one of the best in the business working the short- and long-term financial intricacies of contracts.
Vanden Bosch played about half of his career under the tutelage of Jim Schwartz’s defense in Tennessee. His new contract is front-loaded in such a way that much of the risk is mitigated if (when) the cap comes back after next season.
Burleson’s deal is for five years and $25 million, but only $11 million is guaranteed.
Nate Burleson has teased fans and fantasy owners alike, trying to convince everyone he was a borderline No. 1 receiver. Well, he’s not. But that doesn’t matter, since Mayhew’s priority was to find a dependable receiver, who, by all accounts, is a quiet, humble professional. He also just happened to have his best season playing in Minnesota, under current Lions Offensive Coordinator Scott Linehan.
First, a quick look at both sides of the ball before getting to the Detroit Lions full seven-round prediction for the 2010 NFL draft.