Before I delve into such fun fantastical nonsense myself (albeit from a much more informational and logical perspective) I like to stay grounded by looking into the cap situations of not only the Lions, but the other 32 franchises as well. NetRat garnered me this link with an approximation of all 32 teams' current cap space.
In looking at it, here are a few things I consider:
- What teams are potential Free Agent's on?
- How much cap space do those teams have?
- Which teams are switching offensive/defensive schemes, and what does that do to personnel?
- Which teams switched coaches/front office and what does that do to personnel?
- Which teams have the space and inclination to go after the big-name FA?
- Which teams are in cap jail and can't keep their young up and comers we should look at?
I'll post my thoughts here, and then I want to know what jumped out at you looking at this list, and considering the above. Tomorrow, I'll take that number for the Lions and with NetRat's help dive into the specific situation for Lions' roster -- wand what moves to look at as we head into FA this ifseason from there.
My Thoughts: There are three more teams -- Denver, Green Bay, and likely Kansas City switching to a 3-4 defense. This will make it about a third of the league running a 3-4 and needing many of the same key players. This immediately drives up demand for pass-rushing OLB, as well as run-stuffing space eating NT players. For the Lions, I think they will keep a base 4-3. They also will have competition in both FA and the draft for big nose tackles -- which is especially bad since this draft is shy on run-stuffers (I'm told, haven't looked at it yet) and FA is very thin there as well.
After being on the worst end of that list the last couple of years, the Lions are in the 8th best cap situation right now. Not too shabby.
4 of the ten worst cap teams switched coaches or front offices in 2009 -- so the I think looking at Seattle, St. Louis, Oakland, and the Jets -- they are going to be hard put to make significant, long term positive progress. Look for at least 3/4 (this is a gut check guess) to end up with new coaches again within 3 years.
Cleveland is toward the low end of cap space as well, but we will see how Mangini does with a GM he can actually work with. (notice they hired coach, then GM at the Browns. Not that the Browns are a model franchise teams should look to. Just saying the personnel guy can come second...) Jury is out on what Cleveland will do, but I think they will shed a lot of the high-price guys and bring in their "own people". This could lead to a combination of cap/coaching cuts coming out of Cleveland. Looking at their roster for some value-adding band-aids at several positions may not be the worst of ideas.
Baltimore has drafted well, but is in a cap-spot that they can't keep all three of their top defensive FA. Bart Scott and Terrell Suggs would both add value to the Lions' roster, although I think Scott would be the better FA pickup.
Brian Dawkins and Correll Buckhalter from Philly would be solid additions at the right price, as would LJ Smith -- although he'd need injury-out sin his contract. We don't want another Dan Campbell.
Free-Agent Center Jeff Saturday form Indy would be a great pickup if Indy doesn't find a way to re-sign him (I think they will) -- however, he may be too big a price tag at a position where an immediate upgrade is want much more than need.
Thus far, Denver is seeming to follow a Detroit pattern of going with all inexperienced people at their positions. Coupled with their high cap space available, I can see them going on a spree like Mike Nolan did in his first FA period when the Niners had all that cap space. It didn't turn out well, and something tells me Denver will retain their explosive offense for now, but that they won't be seeing much improvement in either their record or their defense.
Overall, as teams begin negotiating with their free-agents and re-doing contracts this month, it is still too early to tell how the free agency field -- as well as the cap space for signing them -- will play out. However, it is starting to take shape, as you can see.
What are your early thoughts on my talking points above regarding free-agency?
[Tomorrow I will not be writing as I will be in Detroit picking up a couple of family members from the airport. However, beginning on Wednesday I will begin to dive into how the Lions roster looks -- utilizing NetRat's numbers -- and how that will shape and impact FA and the draft. ]