The good news for the Detroit Lions and their fans is Cliff Avril will remain with the team for 2012. The immediate bad news is the 10.6 million dollars that is going to cost, and how pissed Avril will be by having a one year deal for the second year in a row. For now the Avril situation will take a back seat so that the Lions front office can work on the most significant problem remaining and that is Calvin Johnson’s huge cap number for 2012.
It is really too bad for the Lions that all of their top five draft picks took place under the old collective bargaining agreement. These are huge deals that will handcuff the team’s ability to sign free agents and keep their own star players under contract. The Lions had a top two pick in the NFL draft the last three years of the old collective bargaining agreement. If those picks had been made in the first three drafts of the new CBA the Lions would be in much better shape short term. However, given a few years of what those top two draft picks have done this crisis would still be coming to the Lions doorstep.
How General Manger Martin Mayhew deals with it will determine how the Lions keep building towards being a legit playoff contender. With that being said Nate Burleson, Corey Williams, and Kyle Vanden Bosch’s short term futures with the team will now be affected by the restructuring of Johnson’s contract. Should they have to eat the entire 22 million dollar cap hit in 2012 these older, expensive players could become cap casualties.
We do not yet know the exact size of the 2012 NFL salary cap; buy by all reports the Lions are currently right up against it. They have several large contracts to work around, and those negotiations will now determine who can be resigned or what kind of free agents the team can pursue.
Best guess for right now has the Lions not going after any top tier free agents this off season. They will work to resign MLB Stephen Tulloch, OT Jeff Backus, and others while keeping their eye out for cheaper alternatives and backups along the offensive line and in the defensive secondary.