Lions general manager Martin Mayhew told reporters Wednesday he has no reason to believe he and coach Jim Schwartz aren’t safe, and that they have plenty of work to do.
Mayhew said he talked with owner William Clay Ford and his son, team vice chariman Bill, earlier in the week
“As far as I know we’re going to be back,” Mayhew said, via Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press. “It could be like ‘Survivor,’ you know, when you go back and write somebody’s name down.
“But no, as far as I know we’re going to be back and I’ve spoken to Mr. Ford, I’ve spoken to Bill and we talked about our plans going forward and we’re certainly working on getting things right.”
After going 4-12, losing their final eight and not beating a single division opponent, there’s enough work to go around. Mayhew said his biggest mistake may have been overestimating the talent of a team that returned 21 of 22 starters.
“I think that’s quite possible,” he said. “I certainly thought we were going to get some better performances.”
While injuries that limited their starting secondary to one game together and kept running back Jahvid Best off the field were a factor, Mayhew said that the only player he saw improve was defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh.
For a team with a tricky cap situation and 23 free agents, that means change is coming.
For one, Mayhew said he didn’t see himself using the franchise tag this offsesaon, as they did for defensive end Cliff Avril last year.
He also said they needed to restructure or extend quarterback Matt Stafford’s contract, to knock his cap number below his current $20-plus million charge.
Stafford, Suh and Calvin Johnson currently count nearly $50 million toward a cap expected to be around $121 million, so working on Stafford’s deal will be necessary. Mayhew compared it to last year, when they had to give Johnson a new deal before the start of free agency.
That’s good news for Stafford, who gets to negotiate from a position of strength his 2012 season might not otherwise indicate.