There are so many stories, so little time. Seriously, though, I think every writer on the planet had their 2-14, Lions suck again, insert win-loss from last 2-10 years, call it a day story ready. Then of course, the “must get to .500 or else next season” guys. The “try to hire [insert mystical magical coach name here]” forces reared their ugly heads as well.
Wow. Hello, negativity. Do you still sell well?
I decided to lay down some frameworks for my examinations on the team, lest I fall into a couple of traps — the biggest one being that which I nearly tripped up on LAST ifseason — that Martin Mayhew is an extension of Matt Millen. Is he a great GM? Still remains to be seen. Is he different than Millen? A definite YES.
Thus, 0-16 is not to be inluded in his win-loss record. Mayhew/Schwartz/Lewand are 2-14. Period. They took over an 0-16 team and squeezed out 2 wins. Wahoo. Moving on from Win-Loss to specifics is what the next few months are all about.
Killer Kowalski had it right when he said that this is when Schwartz’s ruthless side will come out. His premise was that during the season, he had the guys he had and it was the coaching staff’s job to get as much out of them as possible. Now that the ifseason has arrived, it is time to see who you want to keep for next year, and who can be replaced with someone who is better — or at least has the potential to be. I totally agree with this.
Another thing we hear this time of year is endless mock drafts. Still too early for me to start looking at the draft. First, there is re-signing free agents (won’t be a lot of that happening on the Lions). Then, it is FA shopping to fill gaps with bodies before the draft. Just like last year, I fully expect them to have someone for each spot on the roster. This will again allow them to take the best player available, and continue to increase the overall talent level of the team.
However we might wish for certain players, there are some realities that we need to keep in mind before we go off on Mayhew for not bringing in “the guy” who we want:
- Free Agents are just that — FREE agents. As in “free to choose where I play.”
- Due to the lack of a new CBA, only players with 6 or more credited years will be free agents. This means taht Free Agent players will be in less supply and older than in prior years.
- In reality, good young players rarely hit the free agent market unless they WANT to switch teams, usually to get on a playoff squad, or for a big payday, or both.
- The Lions are extreme long-shots to make the playoffs, so don’t look for many guys to come here to finish out their careers. Ala Vilma a couple of years back, they will be looking to find a squad that can possibly get them a ring, even if the money is less.
- We all want “moderately priced” free agents that can fill gaps.
- Reality: There aren’t a whole lot of them, and there is a reason they are both free agents and moderately priced.
- Short supply means increased prices.
- The Lions have been losing money the last couple of years according to Forbes due to the Millen disaster (empty seats, lost concessions, merchandise sales, bad contracts, etc.)
- This means the Lions aren’t exactly flush with cash, and with the #2 overall pick coming up things won’t be getting much better real soon.
- In other words, look for more of the same: little to moderate named guys for one or two year deals to fill holes until their replacements can be drafted and developed, or another stop gap signed.
I’m usually a great big Honolulu blue ray of light, but the over-exuberance to overpay over the hill big names (dollar ninjas or broken Buzz Lightyear’s), the odds of signing them all, the “why don’t they just sign a new starting [enter position of need here]” when there AREN’T ANY who are FA gets to me now and then. Washington has tried that since Dan Snyder took over and where are they right now? Hiring their 11th coach in almost as many years. Stuck with Albert Haynesworth’s guaranteed money.
(As an aside, the league darn well BETTER fine Snyder at least as much as they did Ford for breaking the “Rooney Rule” in spirit, if not in fact. He wanted Shanahan and got him — which is fine. But just like withMooch, if he didn’t interview any minority candidates whether it is fair or not he needs to be fined just as heavily. Period. I’m not holding my breath on it because it seems a triple standard is always applied to the Lions in these type of situations.)
So while I am looking for the Lions to once again be prolific with trades and activity this free agency period, I expect it to once again be centered on stop-gaps and young guys looking for a chance to prove if they do or do not have what it takes to play in the NFL. Unfortunately, plenty of players last season proved they did not, and will be replaced with someone else looking for a shot. It sure isn’t any fun for the multitude of players whose NFL days are over, but it is a cold business fact and the Lions won’t let sentimentality get in the way of continuing to build a winning team.