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Monday open thread: Are you concerned about the Detroit Lions’ long-term cap plans?

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Are the Lions playing a dangerous game kicking the can down the road?

NFL: Combine Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

If there’s a criticism to be had about the Detroit Lions’ first week of free agency, it’s that they overspent on some of their prospects. Trey Flowers got a deal that ranks him in the top five of all defensive players. Justin Coleman broke the record for a nickel cornerback (if the Lions plan on using him that way). And Jesse James is getting TE1 money.

But in each of those players’ first year with the Lions, their contracts are barely going to make a dent in their salary cap. Take a look:

  • Trey Flowers: $6.4 million cap hit
  • Justin Coleman: $3.4 million cap hit
  • Jesse James: $2.3 million

Total 2019 cap hit: $12.1 million

Of course, eventually the Lions will have to pay the piper. In fact, just one year down the line, all of those players are taking a significant pay raise when it comes to cap hit.

2020:

  • Trey Flowers: $16.7 million cap hit
  • Justin Coleman: $9.5 million cap hit
  • Jesse James: $5.3 million

Total 2020 cap hit: $31.5 million cap hit

And it only gets worse from there:

2021:

  • Trey Flowers: $20.0 million cap hit
  • Justin Coleman: $11.5 million cap hit
  • Jesse James: $6.4 million cap hit

Total 2021 cap hit: $37.9 million cap hit

2022:

  • Trey Flowers: $23.2 million cap hit
  • Justin Coleman: $11.5 million cap hit
  • Jesse James: $7.2 million cap hit

Total 2022 cap hit: $41.9 million cap hit

So today’s Question of the Day is:

Are you concerned with the Lions’ long-term salary cap plans?

My answer: Yes and no.

On one hand, the salary cap is obviously going to jump up a significant amount each year, and by 2021 or 2022, those cap hits aren’t going to look as bad as they do right now. Jesse James’ contract, for example, likely won’t rank that highly amongst other tight ends once other players start getting new deals.

However, this isn’t generally good long-term strategy. Mortgaging your future for the present is something that got former general manager Martin Mayhew in trouble. And we’re not talking about four years down the line. The cap hit for these three players jumps nearly $20 million next year. Paying a guy like Justin Coleman $9.5 million is a risky move no matter how you look at it, and Detroit can’t comfortably get out of that contract until 2022 (they can save $6.4 million in 2021, but they’ll incur over $5 million in dead cap).

But this is how free agency works. You gamble. You overpay players in the hopes that their talent becomes worth it over time. Detroit did their homework and got guys they know they’re going to be comfortable with. The big question now is whether the Lions will figure out a way to use their remaining cap space in a valuable way.

Your turn.

Poll

Are you concerned about the Lions’ long-term salary cap management?

This poll is closed

  • 32%
    Yes
    (478 votes)
  • 67%
    No
    (983 votes)
1461 votes total Vote Now