The NFL is a "what have you done for me lately" league. Winning is fleeting, GMs have to pay the players what they think gives their organization the best chance to win.
With that said, all 32 teams have at least one or two players, with contracts that suggest their play is better than it actually is.
Conversely, all 32 teams have a few players who are underpaid, definitely deserving a new deal. Let's take a look at some Lions who Detroit will need to show the money to, or watch them walk.
Which player's contract extension is the most crucial to the Lions success going forward?
Tulloch has been in beast mode the first four games of the season. He's all over the field—making tackles and defending passes—Tulloch has been the missing link this defense needed to get over the hump from mediocre to good.
His interception against Dallas last Sunday was the biggest play of the game in my opinion. It was beginning to look as if the Cowboys might hold onto the victory, until Tulloch not only picked off Romo's pass, but stole the game's momentum.
To me, securing him in at MLB is the most important extension GM Martyin Mayhew has to get done. Anyone want to go back to the days of Paris Lenon manning the middle? Anybody? Didn't think so.
It seems as if the sole reason Tulloch only signed a one year deal here, was because he wants to cash in when the CBA is more profitable for the players beginning next season. Locking him into a long term deal is a must.
Levy is relatively cheap right now (he's in the last year of his three year $18,057,000 deal), and it's hard to believe his rookie contract is up at the end of this year.
Health was a major issue with him last year, but when he was on the field he showed his versatility and made a game-winning pick six at Miami.
Being able to play all three linebacker positions creates a serious motive to bring Levy back. He also meshes well with Tulloch and Justin Durant.
Sure, you haven't heard DeAndre involved in the play as much this year as last, but that's primarily because this year he's sticking with his assignments and the defensive unit is head and shoulders above the 2010 group.
To me, whether or not he is a Lion next year will depend on the financial restrictions that may arise when locking other players into long term deals.
If I were to change the title of this slideshow to "Lion Most Likely to Leave Via Free Agency," Avril would make the cover.
Don't get me wrong, I'd like for Detroit to ink him to an extension, I just don't think we'll have the cash flow to do it. Avril is on a one-year deal, like Tulloch, making 2.61 million this season. Also like Tulloch, Cliff's going to expect a big payday this offseason.
If he has a double-digit sack season, don't expect Avril to be in the honolulu blue next Fall.
Calvin has been scorching hot this season. He has double the TDs (eight) as the number of games the Lions have played. As sick as that is, what's more sickening is the idea of Megatron leaving Detroit for a massive deal elsewhere in 2013.
Personally, I don't think Calvin will bolt town. Stafford is too much of an elite talent to abandon, together the two of them could break any quarterback to receiver record that stands. More likely, the cost of keeping Johnson will force Detroit to let other players escape via free agency.
Currently, CJ is in the last year of his rookie deal, a six-year 55.5 million dollar deal. Yes, that's a lot of loot. Yet its' peanuts compared to Larry Fitzgerald's (who Calvin has clearly surpassed talent-wise) $120 million deal.
Keeping Calvin will be more costly for Detroit than keeping Matt Millen quiet was for Mr. Ford. Surely Millen has some dirt on Ford, what other explanation is there for his years of gainful employment despite horrid results?
This one is a must. Schwartz is the guy the Lions and their fans have been looking for since...forever. He could spend the next twenty years here, no he should spend the next twenty years here.
Coach Schwartz is intelligent, defensive-minded (but knows the importance of a franchise quarterback), charismatic, and fiery as hell. If you haven't heard about his "Hey, Dez, Dez! Incomplete mother $#!&!" comment in Dallas this past Sunday, you need to Youtube his appearance on "Inside the NFL" from last night.
All of the credit in the world goes to Mayhew and Schwartz for building this team. Managing to keep this group together would be even more impressive.