Monday, May 30, 2016

Detroit Lions - May 30th 2016 - Linebackers

The post draft linebacker situation.

The Detroit Lions have 11 Linebackers on their roster at present. They usually keep 6 players at that position. It is entirely possible they could keep 5 or 7 depending on circumstances (such as other talent to important to lose or other players able to play linebacker and say safety or defensive end) but the typical result is 6 linebackers on the final roster, so let's take a closer look at what they have to work with.

There are two locks to make the final roster; DeAndre Levy (due to his talent) and Tahir Whitehead (talent and the fact he just received $3 million in signing bonuses this year). Both of those players can be slotted in right now at weakside and middle linebacker respectively.

The highly likely to not make the team goes to Stephen Tulloch. Cutting him saves $5.5 million in salary cap space this year plus it was announced by him in February that he wouldn't be on the team this year. Yet the Lions paid him $500,000 as a roster bonus in March, apparently because it was guaranteed. The press has tried multiple times to find out why he's still on the roster but don't get a full explanation. My guess is that there is some kind of wording issue in his contract that is preventing them from making the cut. I assume that it will eventually be worked out, so I am not including him on the roster or even in the fight for a spot on the team.

The 5th round draft pick Antwione Williams was paid a signing bonus of $204,640 which is not enough to consider him a lock, but as a 5th round pick he would have to suck big time to end up on the cut list. He ends up on the "highly likely to make the team" list. Another on that list is Jon Bostic, since Quinn traded to get him with his former team, giving up the 7th round pick the Lions got for a trade 2 years ago with them. Neither player cost so much that they couldn't be cut, but all things being equal I would have to say they make the team.

That leaves 2 spots open for 6 players. Kyle Van Noy still has 2 years remaining on his contract but he really needs to show something this year to be considered. Josh Bynes did fairly well filling in last year, he probably has a leg up on the others but it's by no means assured. Brandon Copeland is on the team due to his special teams play, but with so many others now on the team that can also play special teams this no longer may be enough for him to make it. Then the three free agents picked up this year come into play as well; they being Jerry Franklin, Khaseem Greene, and Zaviar Gooden. While it's easy to just say Van Noy and Bynes have the final two spots locked up, I don't think it's going to be that easy when it's all said and done. Still, for now at least, that is the way I am leaning... but I'm also keeping my eyes and ears open for guys who could upset that apple cart.

In summary then:
2 Locks: DeAndre Levy and Tahir Whitehead.
2 Highly likely to make the team: Antwione Williams and Jon Bostic.
2 Open spots with Van Noy and Bynes penciled in but with Franklin, Greene, Gooden, and Copeland hot on their heels.
1 Likely to be cut: Stephen Tulloch, presumably after June 1st sometime yet no one knows why the delay.

That is how the linebacker corp appears to me at this point in time.

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