The Lions entered the offseason only $3 million under the salary cap, but that wasn’t necessarily a significant concern.
Lions President Tom Lewand says the amount of cap space a team has at any given time is less relevant than how flexible the team is able to be in re-tooling its roster. For instance, the Lions released Titus Young, Kyle Vanden Bosch and Stephen Peterman to save $8.5 million toward the cap, and they believe they have other players under contract who can renegotiate to free up money under this year’s cap if needed.
“The cap is fluid,” Lewand told Detroitlions.com. “I’ve used the analogy before that anybody who tells you how much cap room you have is looking at a still from a movie and it doesn’t tell you much about the movie.”
Lewand says he doesn’t have a particular number in mind when it comes to how much he wants to be under the cap. Instead, he just wants to feel like the Lions can make the moves they need to make.
“The optimal range is dependent on the opportunities that exist, not just on the cap space available,” Lewand said. “You’ve got to look at what possible methods of player acquisition are in front of you, what players are available to be acquired, how they fit your system, all of the different things that are involved in the complexity of the system and marry that up to what your available cap room is.”
The Lions were hamstrung by having either the first or second pick in the NFL draft for three consecutive years — the last three years before rookie salaries were finally reined in. That meant Calvin Johnson, Matthew Stafford and Ndamukong Suh were all a big drag on their cap situation.
But the good news is that after years of bad drafting, the Lions have actually gotten production out of those high draft picks. And the Lions got some short-term cap relief by doing a long-term deal with Johnson last year, and they may do the same with Stafford this year. So the Lions think they’re in fine shape, despite entering the year without a lot of cap space.