Let me start off by saying that every fiber of my 29 year old body is a Lions fan, and has been since I first started following them in 1991. This is an exciting time for me, because for the first time in my adult life, you won't hear laughter after one mentions 'Lions' and 'playoff's' (playoffs?) in the same sentence. We are a relevant team again, and that is a very proud feeling. That being said, we are now in an offseason where the problems we face as a team are, in a sense, good problems. The hands down number one issue facing the Lions this offseason (besides Megatron's contract, but that's different) is what is going to go on with Cliff Avril after his very successful season? He wants to stay, and he wants a long-term deal.
However, the Lions seem to want to place the franchise tag on him, of which Avril is thoroughly resisting to the point of threatening to not report. Oy, yoy yoy. Well, I have a solution.
(more after the jump)Let him go.
The man is going to get paid wherever he goes. I'm certainly no GM or talent evaluator by any means, but from a meticulous fan's perspective, I say that there are more pressing needs especially given the current precarious state of the salary cap situation. So let's get to the nitty-gritty, shall we?
Willie Young was a virtual unknown when the Lions drafted him in the 7th round of the 2010 draft. From that preseason on, whenever he plays, he simply always seems to make plays and getting a strip sack or something. The man hustles. He simply makes plays. I'd be content with having him step in full time with Lawrence Jackson and (insert player here) spelling both him and KVB who certainly doesn't seem to be slowing down. The value here would be simply stunning.
All that being said, I believe that we should, if at all possible, (and CALL ME CRAZY!) draft a stud DE in the first round. I'm sure we could get some good value at our pick and not get a reach. I could live with this situation rather than a disgruntled DE being paid top dollar. Corey Williams could also be axed to make room for Sammie Lee Hill and a healthy Nick Fairley, who I'm sure we've yet to see his full potential. Andre Fluellen could once again be kept around to play both positions if needed.
Next, it is absolutely IMPERATIVE that the Lions re-sign Stephen Tulloch. This should be the first priority hands down, the man was an excellent QB for the defense and made plays. I also believe that Bobby Carpenter has made enough plays to justify being a legitimate starter alongside Tulloch and Deandre Levy. I just frankly was never sold on Justin Durant and think that he doesn't have the upside Carpenter has. I'm looking forward to seeing what Doug Hogue has.
Beyond this, though, I could see the team moving on from Eric Wright, Stefan Logan, Nate Burleson and *sigh* Jason Hanson. Eric Wright is just too Jekyll-and-Hyde for my liking and I would like somebody like say....a Cortland Finnegan. Finnegan and Houston would be a fine tandem, with Aaron Berry and Alphonso Smith as the nickels where they excel.
Louis Delmas and Amari Spievey need to really step their game up, in particularly Spievey. He was downright horrible in coverage this year, even though I love how he's always delivering the big hits and is a great asset to the run defense.
Delmas hasn't had a pick in the past two seasons, and that kind of worries me. I know he's had injury troubles but still in 29 games (including playoff) no picks as a safety? I find that tough to swallow.
Chris Harris should go because his name is synonymous with 'toast' and John Wendling is a special teams STUD who should stay there, unless in cases of emergency like when he had to step in a S for a few games this year, but he's terrible there.
Offensively, I think that Titus Young has become everything the Lions expected when they drafted him. This, I feel, could make Nate Burleson expendable for salary cap reasons. Maurice Stovall and/or Rashied Davis could be kept as a complement due to their abilities to also play special teams, but I'd be open to seeing a more legit journeyman WR option at the three spot. Unfortunately, as much as I like Stefan Logan, I think that his worth has been greatly diminished with the moving of the kickoffs and as a result, I think he could be a roster casualty to free up another precious roster spot.
On to the O-line....the year in/year out hands down most criticized area of the Lions. Stephen Peterman has to go. It's really getting old to see plays go nowhere on that part of the line, which leads me to say that their must be an heir-apparent to Dominic Raiola that needs to be groomed. I love Raiola, but we have to face the facts. I don't think that Dylan Gandy is the answer, or anymore than a stand-in guy. Is Dan Gerberry? The draft? Stay tuned, this could be interesting. Rob Sims has played exceptionally well at LG and there's no reason to consider replacing him. He stays. That leaves us with Jeff Backus, Jason Fox, and Gosder Cherilus.
It seems as if one could tap Fox with a feather and he'll be hurt. This guy has a long way to go to prove himself, even though I do admit he has a stellar upside. Backus is Mr. Dependable, but needs an heir-apparent like yesterday. I believe that this can be achieved through free agency. Cherilus is a hulk, but NEEDS to get consistent. When he's consistent, he's an absolute mauler. However, when he's off his game, he's off his game. Bad. He'll keep his job considering there's no better option anywhere on the roster than him for RT.
With the wild emphasis on concussions, I think it's time to throw in the towel on Jahvid Best. Seriously, the guy is risking more than he realizes on if he keeps playing or not. It's time to give the torch back to Kevin Smith as our lead back, and monitor the continual developments of our younger (and healing) backs such as Keiland Williams, Mikel Leshoure, and Joique Bell. Maurice Morris had a decent year, but once again, I think it's time to move on
I've been watching Jason Hanson for a solid 20 years. I remember watching the 1992 draft when Hanson was drafted and saying aloud: "Kicker in the second round? Are they nuts?" Apparently not after guys like the Oakland Raiders who take kickers in the FIRST round. Unfortunately, it's time to move on from him and get in somebody younger. I hate saying it, but we've got to. It's a necessity. As far as long snapper and punter? Don Muhlbach and Ben Graham I thought were exceptional, and should stay.
Feel free to pick this all apart, I'm a literal zombie right now as I work nights. But I look forward to hearing your input. :)