TWENTYMAN: Burleson faces uncertain future with Lions

Posted Dec 31, 2013

Nate Burleson is owed $5.5 million in base salary in 2014

Nate BurlesonWR Nate Burleson (Photo: G. Smith/Detroit Lions)

There are a lot of changes on the horizon for the Detroit Lions after the team decided to part ways with head coach Jim Schwartz on Monday.

The Lions have a profile of what they want in their next head coach and have already begun the process of finding him. Once that process is done, the other dominoes will begin to fall in terms of the coaching staff and the roster.

Veteran receiver Nate Burleson has been around long enough to know how the business side of football works, especially in situations like this.

Burelson, who caught 39 passes for 416 yards and two touchdowns in eight games, is entering the final season of a five-year, $25 million contract he signed before the 2010 season. He's slated to earn a base salary of $5.5 million in 2014 and the Lions will have some decisions to make on his and other veteran players' futures with the team.

There will be changes in 2014 and Burleson knows that very well could include him.

"I'm willing to (take a pay cut) regardless," Burleson said. "I put that out there early. That's pretty much the only option. Take less money or release me. I'm willing to do that.

"I'll definitely renegotiate and try to outwork my contract, just because I love this team. But at the end of the day I don't control any of that, especially with a new guy coming in."

The players cleaned out their lockers on Monday and said their goodbyes and made plans for offseason rendezvous and workout schedules.

Burleson made his away around the locker room joking with teammates, not knowing if it'll be the last time he gets that opportunity or not.

"The future was probably easier to determine an hour ago," Burleson said shortly after Schwartz was fired Monday. "Or at least take a guess at it that I had a good chance of coming back. Now, you just never know."

Burleson seemed okay with the uncertainly surrounding his future, though. It almost seemed like he was reserved to the fact that making a return in 2014 is more of a long shot at this point.

"I'm good with that," he said. "I think the only thing that I don't feel good about is leaving the team and leaving the city. Leaving my crew and the people that love me here and I love them.

"As far as football, though, four years with a team is hard to do these days. Hopefully we get a new guy and he says, ‘Yeah, I love Nate' and he gives me a high five."