The first article is specifically for the NFC North and the second article is John Clayton’s article which covers most of the rest of the teams. The bottom line is, when you look at the first article, you will see that the Lions are going to be about $1 Million away from the salary cap. This is exactly why there was a lockout and why there is now a rookie pay scale. The salaries that rookies were getting before ever stepping on the field were getting ridiculous and were handcuffing teams. Luckily for us Lions fans, they have plenty of high picks stock piled on the roster from before the lockout, and Calvin Johnson has only one year left on his deal, and should be the highest paid receiver in the NFL.
So what does this mean? This means that the Lions needed the lockout and a new CBA with a rookie pay scale about 2 or 3 years ago. They have a ton of money tied up in their first round picks and it is going to handcuff them when it comes to improving their roster. They will be able to make a few moves, but with how close they are to the cap, the draft is going to be more critical this year than almost any other. Jeff Backus tore his bicep during the New Orleans Saints playoff game and this is the type of injury that is 7 or 8 months. Backus may even retire which would leave a gaping hole at left tackle. The Lions are going to have to re-sign Stephen Tulloch and pray that a left tackle drops to them in the draft. Not only that, but Cliff Avril is a free agent and will want a big deal; he already said that he won’t take a hometown discount for the Lions, so we’ll see how that works out. There are still gaping holes at corner, and quite frankly, I’m don’t think that Martin Mayhew will be able to solve all of the problems at once. I know there is optimism around the Lions for next year after coming off a 10-6 season. But I would temper my expectations of any improvement. For me, after looking at the salary cap figures, I would be more than pleased to re-sign Calvin Johnson, Cliff Avril, Stephen Tulloch and then just make the playoffs. If you were expecting a Super Bowl appearance next year……I would rethink your expectations for the time being.