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Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Detroit Lions 2013 Salary Cap situation as of 1-8-2013


I want to start this out by saying there is no way to know with 100% accuracy exactly where the Detroit Lions are with their salary cap. They keep all contract information from the press and it's rare to hear or read anything about the contracts they sign (most info comes from the agents, the players and from the NFLPA, not the Lions). The numbers are further muddled because you never know who is using what data. For the purposes of writing this today I am using my own spreadsheet created with information I have found online which may or may not have inaccuracies in it. In fact, I'll just say up front that there is bound to be an error here or there in it, so know this as we journey through the rest of the situation.

My disclaimer aside, I have the Detroit Lions with 49 players signed for 2013 as of today. They have 4 eRFA's (guys they can tender an offer to should they want to in Feb or March) and 3 RFA's (guys they tender offers to that other teams could counter with offers of their own giving the Lions a chance to match or get draft picks). They also could use their franchise tag on a player however it is very unlikely they will do so. These 49 players have on my chart a 2013 salary cap total of $120,798,541. I predict the total salary cap for 2013 will be in the area of $123 million.

You can compare my numbers to John Clayton's who has the Lions carrying over $486,000 of unused 2012 salary cap into 2013 to be added to his guesstimate of $120.9 mill in league wide cap space for a total cap available of $121.386 mill (assuming he did in fact use that number and did in fact add them together). He then shows that the Lions are $1.1 million over the cap meaning apparently that the Lions are at $122,486,000 in cap used on those 49 contracts. The link to his info is here: http://espn.go.com/nfl/playoffs/2012/story/_/id/8822266/nfl-mailbag-carryover-rules-impact-cap-strategy

(I may therefor be as much as $1.68 million off... or less.)

Obviously the Lions have some cap work to do before they sign any free agents, any new players, or even any draft picks. There are a number of players who, if cut or traded, would actually cost the cap more money then if they were kept, those players and how much they would add to the cap problems are:

Ryan Broyles $295
Nick Fairley $148,500
Jahvid Best $224,500
Stephen Tulloch $250,000
Riley Reiff $1,373,150
Calvin Johnson $20,600,000

(note: a player can be cut after June 1st to postpone some of his cap hit until the next year, I am not showing those numbers in this post but it is an option that is out there just the same)

It is quite likely that those 6 players will remain on the roster in 2013 regardless of anything else (unless, like I said, they use the post June 1st designation on Jahvid Best for example).

The other 43 players would save room on the salary cap if cut or traded, the amounts for each varying, though every cut or trade would create some dead cap space so the amount saved is nothing like their salaries alone might suggest. In addition, every player cut would have to be replaced somehow someway, preferably by someone who is as good or better so that the team doesn't go backwards any further in talent and ability. The replacement player won't be signed for free and isn't even guaranteed to be better, this is where the true front office work begins this off season. The names of the 43 players and how much cap space could be saved if that player were cut or traded are approximately (sorted in order of most to least):

Kyle VandenBosch -4,962,500
Jeff Backus -4,150,000
Dominic Raiola -4,050,000
Ndamukong Suh -3,703,333
Nate Burleson -2,925,417
Shaun Hill -2,750,000
Stephen Peterman -2,650,000
Brandon Pettigrew -2,146,250
Tony Scheffler -1,950,000
Rob Sims -1,850,000
Mike Thomas -1,500,000
Matt Stafford -1,296,250
Ashlee Palmer -1,000,000
Ronald Bartell -1,000,000
John Wendling -755,000
Brian Robiskie -715,000
Tyrell Johnson -715,000
Ogemdi Nwagbuo -630,000
Don Carey -630,000
Terrence Austin -555,000
Dominique Curry -555,000
Devin Moore -480,000
Lance Long -480,000
Chastin West -480,000
Bill Nagy -480,000
Jimmy Saddler-McQueen -480,000
Kellen Moore -479,063
Travis Lewis -450,500
Jonte Green -431,500
Patrick Edwards -405,000
Troy Burrell -405,000
Nathan Overbay -405,000
Rodney Austin -405,000
Carmen Messina -405,000
Conroy Black -405,000
Lionel Smith -405,000
Chris Greenwood -384,000
Tahir Whitehead -374,000
Titus Young -339,167
Mikel LeShoure -321,524
Ronnell Lewis -281,456
Dwight Bentley -205,444
Ross Weaver -4,050

Now the Lions don't have to cut (or trade) players to free up cap space (or at least, not just that) they could also re-work contracts, moving salary into signing bonus which has the effect of pushing salary cap into future years... they could also demand pay cuts... cut and re-sign a player for less... or extend a players contract re-working the remaining part into future bonuses or guaranteed salaries. These salary cap saving moves are usually done with guys who cap hits exceed $1 million (usually far exceeding that number). The current signed players who exceed $1 million in cap space utilization (not salary, but cap space) are:

Matt Stafford $20,151,250
Ndamukong Suh $18,846,667
Calvin Johnson $12,200,000
Kyle VandenBosch $9,248,750
Nate Burleson $6,074,583
Jeff Backus $4,900,000
Stephen Tulloch $4,750,000
Dominic Raiola $4,050,000
Shaun Hill $3,250,000
Stephen Peterman $2,915,000
Brandon Pettigrew $2,912,750
Nick Fairley $2,696,500
Tony Scheffler $2,450,000
Jahvid Best $1,976,500
Rob Sims $1,850,000
Riley Reiff $1,816,600
Mike Thomas $1,500,000
Titus Young $1,244,167
John Wendling $1,005,000
Ashlee Palmer $1,000,000
Ronald Bartell $1,000,000

Some of the 43 players listed way up above will be cut or traded, and some of the players listed immediately above will get a re-worked contract, an extension, or perhaps even cut and re-signed later, in order to free up cap space.

(Guys who were drafted last year who appear on that list can not have a contract re-work per the new CBA)

Once the Lions have some cap space to work with they are no where near finished for they have no kicker, punter, long snapper, starting DEs, Safeties, or even as I and some others would say, a starting RB (in other words, more holes then Sponge Bob Square Pants).

The Lions might choose to attempt to re-sign some of their own free agents or the unsigned players may decide to retire, go to another team or perhaps won't be offered anything and their NFL careers are over involuntarily... the Lions players who currently do not have a contract are:

Keiland Williams
Kevin Smith
Joique Bell
Shaun Chapas
Stephan Logan
Kassim Osgood
Kris Durham
Will Heller
Dylan Gandy
Gosder Cherilus
Corey Hilliard
Jason Fox
Sammie Lee Hill
Corey Williams
Andre Fluellen
Cliff Avril
Lawrence Jackson
Willie Young
DeAndre Levy
Justin Durant
Louis Delmas
Amari Spievey
Erik Coleman
Ricardo Silva
Chris Houston
Jacob Lacey
Drayton Florence
Pat Lee
Jason Hanson
Don Muhlbach
Nick Harris

You just might recognize some of the names on that list. Various fans will have their favorites and so will the coaches, but until there is cap space available none of these players can be signed for 2013. In addition to signing some of these players the Lions will need cap space for their 2013 draft picks and for the season (to replace guys who end up on IR and so on). Figure $8 to $9 million for the picks and season. By now you probably have realized that the Lions are not sitting in a very good spot in regards to the salary cap... Martin Mayhew, Jim Schwartz and all the rest of the front office most certainly have their work cut out for them this year.

There is one saving grace, after the Super Bowl when free agency begins (I believe it's March 12th this year) only the top 51 contracts count against the cap until the final cut down day at the end of August/beginning of September. This allows a team such as the Lions to fill out their roster without having to cut most everyone on the team first.

Hopefully I have successfully relayed to you the salary cap situation for the Detroit Lions as we look to the start of the 2013 season. It's not a pretty picture but it's not entirely without hope, depending on the willingness of the players to work with the front office on contracts and depending on the front office to make the right calls in who to let loose and who to keep. My next post should be about possible roster makeups that could fit under the cap and perhaps some draft prospects as well. Happy New Football Year Everybody.

1 comment:

cpattitoni1 said...

Have to figure KVB & Peterman are both gone as they are NO WHERE near worth that much. Backus could very well retire with Riley & Fox at Tackle. Burleson has said he's willing to take a cut to stay. Raiola might have to do the same... as well as Mike Thomas. Couple all that with extending Stafford and I think we're all right. Not great but not horrible either.