In an interview with Detroitlions.com last month, Lions vice chairman Bill Ford admitted the team was facing some tough decisions this offseason regarding the salary cap and some key free agents, but added that consistently good teams have to make those decisions every offseason.
“You look at the best teams in the league and they don’t get sentimental,” he said. “The one thing about the New England Patriots is they reload on the run. If they feel like somebody they considered untouchable even a year ago no longer untouchable, they’ll make that decision and go. That’s what the salary cap forces upon you.”
Lions president Tom Lewand referenced that quote in a fan forum with season ticket holders Tuesday, but wanted to add to it.
“Bill Ford did an interview a couple of weeks ago on our website and I thought he had great insight about the New England Patriots being able to build on the fly,” Lewand said. “That they’ve had to make changes on the fly as they’ve sustained a level of competitiveness in this league, but a lot of that has to do with having Tom Brady as a quarterback for so long.
“When you’ve had Tom Brady there and you can build around him, you’ve got guys on defense that they’ve been able to do the same thing with, that makes changing on the fly easy because nobody has 22 solid starter spots in the NFL, plus now rotational players. Nobody has that.
“You’ve got to have that core of players; you’ve got to be able to change around them and make the tough decisions when good players leave you in the salary cap era that you’re confident that that nucleus will get it done and the guys that can fill in around them will fill those support roles.”
Quarterback Matthew Stafford is the primary piece of the puzzle for the Lions; the starting point when Ford and Lewand talk about core pieces to build around.
Like Lewand said in the fan forum, players will come and go in the salary cap era and tough decisions have to be made all the time. The Lions are facing a tough decision this offseason with the pending free agency of defensive end Cliff Avril. The Lions have to decide how much they value Avril monetarily, whether they can afford to franchise him if a long-term deal doesn’t get done, or whether they can live without him.
The Patriots made a tough decision in 2009 when they parted ways with Pro Bowl defensive lineman Richard Seymour, who was entering the final year of his contract, by trading him to the Raiders. They endured, reloaded and had Tom Brady to guide them through the transition.
The same goes for the Lions and Stafford and any tough decisions they might ultimately make.
“The focus when we’re winning will be on that core of players on both sides of the ball: Matthew Stafford, Calvin Johnson, Brandon Pettigrew, Ndamukong Suh, Louis Delmas, those guys that we drafted who are our guys who provide that nucleus that we can then build around,” Lewand said. “Look at any competitive team in the NFL and they have that nucleus of guys.”
All of the players Lewand mentioned above are under contract next season.
“As a our quarterback continues to get better, he naturally becomes the leader in that locker room, and guys will naturally look to him to set the tone and I have every confidence that Matthew is going to set right tone for us going forward,” Lewand said.
Tags: Bill Ford, Brandon Pettigrew, Calvin Johnson, Cliff Avril, Louis Delmas, Matthew Stafford, Ndamukong Suh, Tom Lewand
Posted in Lions Insider Tim Twentyman | 7 Comments »