The Detroit Lions, as I pointed out on Tuesday, are #8 in current cap space available. However, still expect to see more cap cuts like Mike Furrey as Feb 9th (the date to release current players) passes.
As our commenters on the last piece pointed out, they are not cap cuts in the sense that room is needed to sign players. Rather, they are going to be performance/contribution cuts. Are you paying starter money to a backup? #2 WR money to a #3 wideout? One whom you already have a replacement for (Standeford) on the roster, who costs less?
NetRat has a great spreadsheet with cap numbers, as regular readers know (check out his site in the sidebar links.) This year, he has put up an easy-to read page with numbers that players will count against the 2009 cap, and how much will be saved/lost if that player is cut. Mike Furrey, for instance, will save the Lions $1,950,000. That is not insignificant savings.
NetRat highlighted a few groups in there. What I want to know is, who do you see staying and/or going taking into consideration cap impacts, and the ability to replace that individual with someone who is both an upgrade, and/or provides the same level of talent for a lower cap cost. Standeford as a #2/#3 WR versus Furrey, for instance. Not saying I don't like what Furrey has done, but the old regime was too big on overpaying under performing players and you can't do that and stay on top in this league.
I can see the Lions re-signing Moran Norris with the money gained from letting Jon Bradley go. I also see Kitna, Dan Campbell, and Mulitalo also being let go to create more cap flexibility. I also think all three could be replaced at their current performance levels with less cap dollars, freeing those cap dollars to be used on higher-impact players.
Unfortunately, the tone thus far out of Allen Park is that DanO will not be coming back. This means I think we see Stanton, Culpepper, and one newcomer duking it out to be starting QB. That doesn't mean a #1 overall, but at least one pick in that case would likely go QB unless they Lions dig into the Byron Leftwich type FA and allow a free-for-all competition. Culpepper will stick as the veteran backup through this year, I think, no matter what. After all, considering Cleo Lemon makes 3.49 Million per year, 5 mil for Culpepper, who could possibly end up your starter for a year, isn't too bad a cost to value proposition.
Nubsnobber will cry blasphemy, but I agree Lenon could be back even if the Lions stay in a 4-3 --- but not as the starting MLB. Rather, he will hopefully either be SLB, or backup SLB/MLB. As a backup, he is the kind of player teams want to have. As a starter, he is the kind of player teams want to upgrade. I'm still on the fence on that one. Actually, there are quite a few players like that on the Lions, and one of the reasons we may see more upgrades than sweeping changes right at first. Why fire backups when you can just keep them as backups and hire starters?
Mayhew better be good in this draft, or the Lions are hamstrung for a few more years...
Hanson will be re-signed, and will be with the Lions anyways since he was franchised under the old tag 2 CBA's ago, and is restricted anyways. They will make him their top extension priority this month. If you want to run a bruising, power-run long ball offense that Linehan likes, you need a reliable kicker to get points out of every drive.
Dwight Smith will also go, and they will re-work Raiola's deal to make it more cap friendly, and lock him up. That way, they have an NFL starting quality Center for now, and can upgrade when it is advantageous, rather than being forced into it. Give a new draft pick a chance to compete and develop, or pick one the 2-3 top rated interior linemen this year that are OG/C. Upgrade OG now, and then decide if they will move to C and you'll draft an OG, or draft a new C when it is finally time to replace Raioa. BOTH OG spots are much bigger problems than LT or C by far.
Also, depending on his health, I think Calhoun will be let go and a returner/change of pace back who is younger and healthier will be given a shot...
Your initial thoughts? Who do we re-sign? Who gets cut? Who can be replaced, and how (FA/Draft) and looking at what is out, is it realistic in regards to cap, likelihood, and talent level?