NFL free agency is almost here. On Tuesday at 4 p.m. ET, the new league year begins, signaling the start of free agency. We will finally be able to start putting the speculation to rest as actual news comes out. In the meantime, while we still have some time to speculate, let's make some predictions for free agency. Here are five of my predictions for the Detroit Lions:
1. Cliff Avril won't be re-signed.
We might as well get the most obvious prediction out of the way first. Avril and the Lions don't seem close to a deal, and Avril is pretty much as good as gone at this point. He is expected to draw a lot of interest on the open market, and chances are he will land a deal worth much more than what the Lions are willing to pay him. As a result, he will probably have a new team by this time next week, and the Lions will have to look elsewhere to rebuild their depth at defensive end.
2. The Lions will re-sign Chris Houston.
The cornerback market is being flooded right now as teams release defensive backs. This is good news for the Lions. Not only do they have a good number of options when it comes to addressing their need at cornerback, but Houston's price is being driven down. I do not expect him to get an Eric Wright type of deal, which is why I expect the Lions to re-sign him. He is coming off of a tremendous season, but I don't think the market is going to reflect that, allowing the Lions to retain him.
3. The Lions will fail to extend Matthew Stafford, at least initially.
Unlike last year with Calvin Johnson, it doesn't feel like the Lions are close to getting Stafford a new deal. They need to extend him to create cap space, but Stafford has all of the leverage right now. With a couple years left on his deal, there isn't pressure for him to quickly agree to a new contract, especially since his value could potentially go up quite a bit in the future. Unless the Lions are ready to offer Stafford a monster contract right now, it's tough to see anything getting done. At the very least, I would be surprised if Stafford's new deal is complete in the initial wave of free agency, and I could even see him entering the 2013 season with his current $20.8 million cap hit in place. (This is the one prediction that I hope turns out to be wrong.)
4. Martin Mayhew will complete a trade at some point before the draft.
Back in Mayhew's first couple years as general manager of the Lions, trades were quite common. Mayhew really did a nice job of acquiring talent for a relatively low cost. He managed to get guys like Corey Williams, Rob Sims and Chris Houston via trades, and those moves proved to be a big part of the Lions' rebuilding process. In the last couple years, there haven't been any trades of this sort that made an impact on the Lions roster, but I have a feeling Mayhew will get creative and pull something off in the next month or so. Especially for a position like defensive end or safety, a trade could be very helpful when it comes to adding talent to the roster.
5. The Lions will land Reggie Bush.
I keep going back and forth in my head about what will happen with Bush and the Lions. On the one hand, he does make perfect sense for the Lions since they desperately need a replacement for Jahvid Best. On the other hand, this almost seems like it makes too much sense and the cost to sign Bush could bring negotiations to a screeching halt. Ultimately, I have settled on predicting that the Lions will in fact sign Bush. Admittedly, this is by far my least confident prediction, but I just think Mayhew is going to make sure the Lions fill their need for Best's replacement by going out and signing Bush.
What are your predictions for free agency?
Leave your predictions in the comments, both for what the Lions will do and what will happen across the league.