This season is enormously important for the Detroit Lions. Not only is management facing essentially a make-or-break season with playoff contention being the bar between success and failure, but Detroit has a ton of offseason resources that could give them a huge jump in talent, including the third overall pick in the draft.
This offseason transformation has already begun for Detroit, as they’re finalizing their new coaching staff following a significant overhaul earlier this month. But the Lions have an opportunity to add some significant player talent this year, and it could give them a huge leg up on their divisional rivals—all of whom swept Detroit in 2019.
Twitter user Lee Sharpe (@LeeSharpeNFL) put together a visual representation that really highlights how big of an opportunity this offseason is for Detroit. Using Over The Cap’s “Effective Cap Space” (the maximum cap space a team will have when it signs at least 51 players to its roster) and draft pick value (based on Football Perspectives’ value chart), Sharpe graphed each team’s offseason resources:
Each team's 2020 offseason resources.— Lee Sharpe (@LeeSharpeNFL) January 30, 2020
X-axis = Draft Pick Value
Y-axis = Effective Cap Space pic.twitter.com/MDDrlcPhve
As you can see, the Lions are above average in both draft and free agency resources. Their draft pick value is fourth best in the NFL, while their $48.4 million in cap space puts them just above the NFL average.
Perhaps most importantly, however, is how it relates to the rest of the NFC North. The Vikings are in salary cap hell, with -$10 million in effective cap space, and because of their run in the playoffs, they won’t pick until 25th.
The Bears are in a similar situation, having the fifth-fewest cap space in the league, and because of the trade for Khalil Mack, they don’t have a first-round pick (although they have two second rounders). They’re also missing their third-round (Mack trade) and fourth-round (2019 draft trade) picks. Overall, their draft capital in 2020 is sixth lowest in the league.
Finally, there’s the Green Bay Packers, the 2019 NFC North champions. While they aren’t in a horrible position in either draft capital or cap space ($26.5 million), they are below average in both.
In other words, the Lions have no excuses but to gain ground on their foes this year. They have a huge edge on resources, now they just need to use them wisely.