First off let me start this by saying that this is an extremely subjective viewpoint, from a fan, who loves the Lions. I do not have any inside information, nor do I profess to have any enlightened insight into the Lions front office or how they work. I have no inside knowledge of anything. I am just a guy with a brain that tends to over analyze the crap our of everything. Since I love football, and I love the Lions even more, it just so happens that I spend more brain cycles thinking about stuff like this than sex. Does anyone know a good therapist?
Well anyways, lets take a look at how my sick mind works, in regards to football that is! I have had a gut feeling for a while that the Lions may just be more in the market for Nnamdi than people realize. Below I will go through point by point on how I have arrived at this conclusion. I will also explore some branches in the road at the end that may lead away from Nnamdi. Hopefully you all find this entertaining possibly informative, for something that is nothing but pure speculation.Lets just start off with the bullet points first.
1. Suh and Calvin go to the pro bowl to "recruit" some free agents. It was pretty clear that the biggest and most obvious name there was Nnamdi.
2. Nnamdi stays very quiet about his intentions. We all know that the NFL only holds two super secret, CIA level on misinformation and the art of manipulating media, front offices. New England and now Detroit.
3. At first Lions beat writers stated that they would at least kick the tires on pursuing Nnamdi. Later it was stated that the Lions would not pursue Nnamdi. See 2 above.
4. The cap room is there. The Lions cap was 123.1 million last year, had we a cap it would have been around 128 million. So the Lions were already 5 million below cap. Cutting Julian Peterson saved the Lions 7.5 million this year, Maurice Morris is off the books next year and another 3 million come off. Quick math puts that at around 15 million, Nnamdi's last contract with the Raiders was 15.1 millions. Furthermore the Lions may have other veterans coming off the books next year such as Jeff Backus, and they also cut Kevin Smith this year, there are also other likely cuts coming, such as Bryant Johnson. There is more than enough money already off the books or soon to come off the books to sign Nnamdi.
Some will say that we still need to sign our other players this year. Yes that is true, but also consider that the salary cap goes UP every year, if we even have one this year. Also if a cap does come back in after one or two non capped years, it will likely be set and adjusted odd of the teams current caps and players current salaries, it is not just some random arbitrary number the league just throws out there. Lastly, the Lions saved over 18 million this year just by picking 13th instead of 2nd, and they are likely to save even more in next years draft when they pick lower yet.
Bottom line, there is plenty of cash to sign any free agent the Lions so desire.
5. Some say the Lions do not make big splashes in free agency, I would point to KVB and Burleson last year, and if I must, I will go all the way back to Scott Mitchell. While some might think the Fords are cheap, that has never been the case. They have always been willing to spend, especially for a big name that might push the team over the top or put more butts into seats. The impression that the ownership has been labeled with is a false one, I can tell you first hand from having a lifetime of experience with Ford Motor Company, that William Clay Ford is not cheap. If the man has any fault at all it is being too loyal or too trusting. The cheapness came from the guys who were in chage of the team in the past, not the ownership. Make no mistake, this decision will be one that is up to Martin Mayhew and Tom Lewand, and it is their track record, a rather short one, that will come into play regarding free agency, not the Fords.
6. Some say the Lions cannot attract big name free agents. Again this is a myth. In fact it was well known that the Lions would tend to overpay and therefore they always had a reputation as a good place to "go get a paycheck". This further combats point number 5 above. However it is true, that the Lions lack of winning ways, along with some serious black eyes, like the premature retirement of Barry Sanders, have been a detractor for the more competitive free agents who are looking for a winner. Thankfully, the culture has been changed, and the Lions are seen across the league as a solid front office, with solid coaches, and a team with a young core of players that is only on the rise. No one gave the Lions respect, they demanded it.
7. The future is bright. Touching on the point above, the Lions continue to make heads turn in th NFL. This years draft provided more of the same with the Lions first round selection of Nick Fairley. In one fell swoop the Lions have just put the NFL on notice that they are not, nor do they intend to, play fair. In fact they intend to make an already intimidating defensive line even scarier. Not only did this move result in a collective groan and serious concern by opposing teams fans for the well being of their quarterbacks, but it also made the Lions one of the premier destinations for free agent corner backs around the league.
Only 8 teams accumulated more than 40 sacks last season, in order of highest to lowest they follow: Steelers (48), Packers (47), Raiders (47), Chargers (47), Giants (46), Lions (44), Rams (43), Jets (40), Titans (40).
Looking at that list, we can remove some teams as likely landing spots for various reasons. The Steelers do not usually go after big name free agents, and they also drafted a couple of corners this year. The Packers would be a good fit, but they are on a very limited budget. Uhm Raiders... not likely. The Chargers fit in a lot of ways, but their general manager has a horrible reputation with players and agents. The Titans lack a lot of pieces on offense and are probably considered to be further off than the Lions as a contender. The Rams are looking up, but playing in a weak division inflates their progress, they are still a bit behind the Lions as a contender. Ultimately I am left with three possible targets from this list, The Giants, Lions, and Jets.
8. Possible good fits. Expanding on the list above (Giants, Lions, Jets) other teams have been mentioned as possible good fits for Nnamdi, including the Texans, Cowboys, and Patriots. An argument could be made for all of these teams, and perhaps the Colts or Saints as well based on super bowl contention alone. Now lets eliminate some of these teams. First of all the Jets have big mouths, it is pretty much their team identity now. Add that in with the hyperactive New York media and I do not think either one of those teams could keep the lid on it. If they were seriously in the mix for Nnamdi there would be a lot more media hype going around about it. The Texans drafted Kareem Jackson in the first round last year, and Brandon Harris in the second this year, while Nnamdi could still be in the plans, it does make me think twice about them. The Cowboys would have let the cat out of the bag by now as well, there is no way Jerry Jones could not keep his ego in check, he would be gloating like crazy if he had already landed Nnamdi. The Patriots also have a lot invested into young corner backs, I am not sure it is in their game plan to add a piece like Nnamdi at this point, possibly, but it does make me think twice about them too.
9. A front runner is chosen, and it is the Detroit Lions! Everything I look at, all the innuendo and reading between the lines, including the Lions not selecting a single corner back in this draft, makes me think that we are a VERY likely suitor for Nnamdi. It would make a lot of puzzle pieces fit together nicely in my logical mind, the football world would make sense once again. Once could argue that Nnamdi has not made a choice yet, but that is not the impression he has given in interviews. One has to wonder if this is the big move up Mayhews sleeve this year. Is this the 'finna do big things" that Jahvid Best speaks of? Is this why Mayhew can publicly state that the goals this year is to win the division? I leave that to you guys to deduce, but I know where I am leaning.
10. Hedging bets, covering asses, and looking beyond the tunnel vision. My last point will be this, even if the Lions do not have a Nnamdi in the bag, everything above still holds true for me. Mayhew cemented it in the draft. It is not an if we will see a new secondary name or two added, it is a virtual must at this point. Everything that makes Detroit so attractive for Nnamdi also holds true for other promising free agent corner backs, such as Jonathan Joseph and Ike Taylor. While the addition of those names may not be quite as attractive as Nnamdi Asomougha, I am not sure they have to be. With the fearsome front the Lions now field, an average back seven that is fundamentally sound, tackles well, and can play within their scheme assignments, is easily enough to field a dominant defense this year.