Now I know this WAY TOO early look but there is some discussion going on about the future of roster and cap space with Avril and others.
First is Quarterback, we have 2 signed up right now and I am sure a 3rd will be drafted or a UDFA this year for a few years. Needless to say that will be league minimal amount. The critical thing is the cost is roughly 23.4 million right now plus a league minimal QB will put us roughly 23.8 million. If Stafford stays healthy this year I am certain the Front office is going to do a new contract with him that will reduce the contract costs to 17 million per year. I am thinking something similar to Calvins contract in that it is rather flat 12 to 13 million the first couple of years then higher at the middle and then team or player options at the end. That contract would be a 5 year deal 85 million with 35 million guaranteed. I do not see us signing him up for longer than that at this point. Overall with that contract change it will move us to 16.25 plus a base contract that would then put us at 16.75 million
Next is Running back. Lets be fair we been running league minimal contracts for a number of years. Frankly the health of our running backs makes this a good idea. Now we have 2 running backs on the roster one is Leshoure and the other Best. We will need 3 more running backs. I am unsure where we get them from but I would not be shocked if we draft 2 to fill this out and then have a 3rd be a special teamer/returner. The initial cost is 2.9 million plus 3 additional contracts moves us to 4 million dollars.
Now comes the not fun area, Wide Receiver. Now with Calvin and Titus wrapped up we have Nate to deal with. Now we could continue to pay him out the rest of his contract which is 2 years 13 million or we could cut him and save 10 million for those two years. Needless to say it is a question our GM is going to have to make. I will say this, if we draft another WR this year I would not be surprised to see Nate cut after this season. The simple thing is Nate is my age and do I see him playing at his current high level the next three years maybe but its a big if. He has had an issue of staying healthy and that is a scary item to think about. Do you sign him up a contract extension that moves the money he has as salary to a signing bonus spread out for say 2 more years. That would move the current numbers from 21.1 million to say 19.3 million. A minor savings but it would work. BTW the contract for Nate would be a 4 year, 20 million with a 13 million SB. I would only see us do this type of contract if we do not draft a WR this year. BTW we are solid on number of WR on the roster and only minor changes I forsee.
The next position is Tight End. This has some issues. First is Pettigrew and Scheffler are both in the last year of their contracts for 2013. Now that is an issue that would be looked at after this year. For Pettigrew I think it is fair to say that the Lions are going to look at the risk of letting him play in 2013 on his last contract or do a new contract that would pay him an average of 6 to 7 million a year for 5 years. Lets be honest he has been an awesome TE for the Lions and the top pay for a TE is that amount. As for Tony I hate to say this but I do not see us signing him after this season and he will play on his final contract. I think the Lions are going to risk it and instead tie up Pettigrew. Scheffler though will be looked at and should get roughly a 2 million per year contract for 4 years. I still think a TE in this years draft would be a good idea. If we do I see Tony only getting a 2 year extension. Needless to say 3 players for 5.7 million and if we replace Heller for another TE in this years draft I could see him being let go as a FA after 2012. Of course if we do a new contract for Pettigrew it will cost us a minor amount as he is due almost 3 million in 2013 so a new contract will only raise that up a minimal amount.
Next is the offensive line. This is going to have a ton of issues going forward. In 2013 we have 7 players signed up with 4 of the 5 starters from last year on the roster. The one on his last contract is Goser. So going forward we need to decide who we keep for tackle, we have one backup for Guard after 2012, so there is some roster moves needed. And lets be fair only the Tackles have a roster bonus due to them. So some movement can be done during this draft and next years. Needless to say I should point out that for a base salary Dom is the highest paid Center in the NFL this year and next year he will be the 2nd but over the next two years he is the highest paid on average. So its a cost that will have to be looked at. Needless to say if we blow up our OL next year it will keep our cost the same at 14 million with a total of 9 players. If we do not blow up our OL it will closer to 15 million.
Now we come to the defense. As I stated in a comment we are siting with 8 players on the staff. Now there is 5 parts to the defense but I am going to combine 2 of them first. The CBs and Safeties are first on my list. Now for the past 3 seasons under Mayhew we have been throwing lets be honest, shit at the wall and see what sticks. Right now for the DBs we have Wendling and a futures contracted Weaver on the staff. With a total of 10 DBs needed that to me means we need 9 more DBs. Now this is a make it or break it year for our safeties IMHO. Spievey will be a RFA and Delmas a UFA after this season. Both have to prove that they can stay healthy this year or one or both will be looking on the outside looking in. The simple thing is I would be shocked if do no pick up a safety in the draft. The next item is the CBs. We have a solid player in Houston and frankly I think 5 million a year will be sufficient to keep him. That leaves the other starting CB. Frankly if we can get somebody for 4 million a year it will be a good bet however a drafted player in the 1st or 2nd will cost us 1.5 million to 3 million. The backup 5 players are going to cost us half a million a year. So overall we are looking at 16 million for the 10 DBs. That is 11.5 for the CBs and 4.5 million for the Safeties.
Next up is the LBs. With Hogue and Tolluch signed up for next year we have some work to do. First is Durant and Levy and both could sealed up long term at 3 million a year. The two backups are minimal salaries so I think half a million a year for those. That is a total salary of 13 million for the LBs.
Last but not least is our DL. Right now we have 4 players signed up for 28 million a year. Now this is where we are going to focus a lot of our effort next off season. I think our first item to do is getting Suhs cap impact down to manageable level. The problem for us is Suh first contract was 12 million a year. For us to get him to relook at his contract I am thinking it will have to be around 13 million a year with a large signing bonus. I would like to do a 5 to 7 year deal. Next up is our backups, frankly SLH will get a minor deal of 2 million a year for a few years with Fluellen getting a similar deal. That then leaves CWill who I do not see us keeping unless he wants a similar deal. Next is the DE. This is a major aspect of our defense but lets be honest it will not be cheap to fill. I would say if we give Vandenbosch a minor deal to play backup/coach for 3 more years it would settle some cap issues if it can get down to 3 million a year. Next is LowJack and Will Young to sign. I think a minor deal of 3 million a year will settle those two as well provided they are a nice 5 year deal. Lastly is Avril our centerpeice. His deal is going to cost us some change. I think 12 million a year for 6 years is the deal that will get done. Overall that gives our Dline 8 players for roughly 36 million for 8 players not too bad IMHO.
I guess I missed one spot. Our special teamers. That will be a long snapper, kicker, and a punter. Total cost is going to run us around 3 million.
So lets review: QB - 16.75 million, RB - 4 million, WR - 21 million, TE - 5.75 million, OL - 15 million for a total of 62.5 million for the offensive players. On Defense we have our DBs at 16 million, LBs at 13 million, and our DL at 36 million for a total of 65 million. With the special teamers we are at 130.5 million. There is some flexibility in these numbers as I am sure if I were to spread out some of these contracts a bit I could get that amount to the cap. So I think keeping our current players that work and tweaking some of the contracts we should be good to go. So I trust Mayhew to do his job and we will have a solid team for years to come. So for next off season provided we get Avril signed this year to a long term deal we should be looking at Suh and Stafford as primary targets for re-upping then go after Nate, Houston, Pettigrew, Scheffler, and our LBs. The Dline are going to be a minor contract and more than likely will be taken care of between the draft and camp.