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3 reasons the Detroit Lions may struggle to lure free agents, 1 reason they won’t

Would you sign with the Lions right now?

NFL: Detroit Lions-Training Camp Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

Free agency is right around the corner. In fact, it’s just 23 days away from right now. Once the Damon Harrison Sr. release is official, the Detroit Lions will have the 11th most cap space in the NFL with a little over $53.8 million in the bank. Despite that, everything with the Lions seems to be in disarray right now.

The Lions may be on the verge of trading one of the best corners in the NFL in Darius Slay, might lose their starting guard and possibly their best offensive lineman outside of Frank Ragnow in Graham Glasgow, they just released their starting nose tackle in Snacks, and they have yet to sign Kenny Golladay to an extension. To be fair, a big reason some deals may not be getting done is because teams are waiting to see what the results of the CBA will be.

Some Lions fans are trying to remain hopeful, though. After all, the team has a lot of money and free agency hasn’t started yet. The Lions are going to be able to sign guys to replace the players they’ve lost or could soon lose. Then they’ll knock the draft out of the park and everything is going to be okay, right?

In my opinion, it’s not that simple. I can’t say anything about the draft. The Lions may very well knock it out of the park. But those players don’t have the benefit of being able to choose where they’re drafted. Free agency is where I have all the concerns.

Let’s put you in the shoes of a free agent. You’re an NFL player. Let’s say you’re a good NFL player with 10 years to play the game, make the most money you can, and have as much success as possible. Would you want to play for the Lions? I’m not so sure you would. Here’s a few reasons why the Lions may have trouble nailing down some key free agent signings next month.

Make-or-Break season

Right off the bat there’s a giant air of instability. If you sign a long-term deal to play for the Lions because you fit Matt Patricia’s scheme on either side of the ball, you have to know that there’s a giant chance that scheme is gone in a year. After all, the Lions front office and coaching staff appear to be on a make-or-break season by ownership demands. The Lions are a team coming off a three-win season to boot.

While some are pegging the Lions to be the next 49ers, it’s hard to muster up a lot of faith in the current staff in position. Losing is all we’ve seen from this group in two downtrodden seasons.

This a big risk. Remember, you only have so much time in your career. If the Lions struggle in 2020, now you’re stuck playing for a team that’s going through yet another reshuffle. Maybe you figure it out. Maybe you regress and find yourself missing out on the best years of your career and another big pay day.

Maybe none of that happens at all and this is a overreaction about the way things work in football. But why risk it either way?

Is this team pushing players away?

Look, I can’t prove anything here. Every player I’ve talked to about matter has praised both the front office and the coaching staff. But If I’m on the outside looking in, what I see is big-time players openly talking about playing somewhere else on social media, former Lions talking about how they don’t trust the Lions or how they feel the staff is trying to silence players.

Then I see this same team neglecting to sign its best players to extensions or new contracts. Finally, I see this team taking bonus money away from one of the greatest players to ever play for it. That same player continues to dog the team in interviews, too.

Why would I want to join this team? I don’t want to be silenced, and I want to be able to trust my own bosses. If I’m a guy that doesn't know anything about this team and wants to learn more, all this stuff is really easy to find.

Whether any of this stuff is actually happening in Detroit is irrelevant, because the perception is real. I’m just a guy that’s never played for the Lions before and I don’t know what any of the real truths that the media and fans know. I only know what I can see. And what I can see makes me want to sign elsewhere.

This is a losing team

Who knows that the future holds? The Lions may very well be 2020’s 49ers. But as of now, you’re only as good as your last season. That last season for the Lions was really bad. The team won just three games. On top of that, they only won six games the year before. On top of that, they’re the Detroit Lions, the NFL’s perennial laughing stock. One of the teams that’s never gone to the Super Bowl and has only won one playoff game in the Super Bowl era.

I hate all those narratives just like you do, but the fact remains that this is how people see the Lions outside of Detroit. A national analyst can’t even suggest the idea that the Lions could make the final spot in the Wild Card without hearing the rest of the panel laugh at him.

Couple that with the first two things on this list and man that’s a quite a hump to overcome. Why would I want to come to this team?

There are some positives, though...

The fact is this team at full health has an offense that with ton of potential to be really good. They have one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL in Matthew Stafford to lead that offense. He’s widely loved by every player that’s ever played with him and is considered the team leader. Not a bad guy to be around.

There’s also some young potential all over this team. Guys like Tracy Walker, Amani Oruwariye, T.J. Hockenson and Frank Ragnow are only going to get better, and there’s still plenty of room for any player to stake his claim to a starting spot and flourish.

They also have money. We mentioned before that the Lions are 11th in cap space right now. They can afford to pay players enough money to forget the reasons they shouldn’t play here.

We will soon find out what happens. But as it stands, It’s seems like it’s going to be hard for the Lions to find anyone to come to Detroit next month. That’s going to cost the team a lot of problems.