10 QUESTIONS WITH TWENTYMAN: What's next for Lions?

Posted Mar 19, 2014

Senior writer Tim Twentyman answers questions from his Twitter (@ttwentyman) account on free agency, the draft and contracts

From time to time this offseason I plan to answer 10 good questions I receive through my Twitter account @ttwentyman in a feature we call "10 Questions with Twentyman."

Jed CollinsFB Jed Collins (Photo: AP Images)

Do you see the lions making anymore larger moves in FA? Jimmer Frat (@JimmerFrat)

20man: Team president Tom Lewand left the door open during an appearance at MGM’s Tap resturant Monday night, but I don’t see anything real substantial beyond maybe getting a starting safety in James Ihedigbo, who was in for a visit last week.

Ihedigbo to the Lions makes sense for both parties. He has a familiarity with head coach Jim Caldwell and defensive coordinator Teryl Austin. The Lions can be flexible enough with Glover Quin’s skillset to move him over to free safety and let Ihedigbo, who’s a better in-the-box safety than he is a cover safety, play the strong safety.

Beyond that they just signed fullback Jed Collins and could potentially add a backup center.

At this point, though, it appears the Lions are focusing on getting an extension done with Ndamukong Suh and looking to fill holes in a very deep draft.

What are the Lions planning on doing with their secondary? Best since day one (@therealbschrec)

20man: I mentioned Ihedigbo above, but I don’t see any major additions to the secondary beyond that in free agency. I think Rashean Mathis is still in play, but that’s a re-sign and not adding new talent.

The draft is a different story, however.

I expect the Lions to add a cornerback at some point (I’m not a fan of that happening at No. 10, however) and a young safety.

Look, the Lions have spent four draft picks the last two years on the cornerback position. That includes a second-round pick on Darius Slay last year. At some point, these guys have to play. That’s just a reality.

Another reality is the Lions gave veteran Chris Houston a five-year, $25 million contract last offseason. They can’t walk away from that deal after one year or they’ll eat more than $5 million in bonuses and guarantees. They have to hope he can bounce back from his inconsistent play last year. Another reality.

Houston and Slay are slated to be the starting cornerbacks next year unless something else changes or they add via the draft and that player comes in and wins a job.

In your opinion if the lions draft Clinton Dix at 10 do you think he has an Eric Reid type impact for the Defense next year? RR (@RobLReynolds3)

20man: I did a story a little while back on the early impact the last five safeties drafted in the fist round have had on their respective teams. More impact than the first-round cornerbacks selected the last couple years.

I like Ha Ha Clinton-Dix a little better than I do Louisville’s Calvin Pryor because I think Clinton-Dix is a free safety, whereas Pryor is a strong safety, and Clinton-Dix is a little better cover man. I think he fits what the Lions need a little better.

I do think Clinton-Dix can have an immediate impact, who knows if it can be as good as Reid, who was a Pro Bowl player as a rookie. That's a lot to ask of a young man. I personally think Clinton-Dix will be good early in his career, but the No. 10 overall pick might be a little high for him if one of the top receivers or linebackers is still on the board.

I was wondering based on what's happened in FA can u see the lions moving up to get Watkins? Adam Cogswell (@Adam_Cogswell75)

20man: I think there would have been a better likelihood if the Lions hadn’t snagged Golden Tate in free agency, but I still wouldn’t take the scenario off the board.

It all depends on the final grade, Adam. If Watkins ends up being at the top of their board, like Patrick Peterson was in 2011, and the gap between him and next player is substantial, Mayhew proved in that 2011 draft he isn’t afraid to try and go and get him if he really wants him.

Calvin Johnson, Tate and Sammy Watkins on the outside, with the double-headed monster of Reggie Bush and Joique Bell in the backfield, along with a terrific offense line and a strong-armed quarterback would be a lot to deal with for a defense.

This is a deep draft, however, and the Lions need to add talent and depth to the defense, too. The picks they’d give up to get Watkins have real value this year, more than most years. If some could be pushed to next season I’d feel better about it. I don’t think the idea is off the table because of the Tate signing, however.

Any word on the safety from Baltimore James Ihedigbo. Greg Geisler (@GregGeisler993)

20man: My understanding is that he’s working out a few things on his end with getting an agent situation taken care of. The Lions might need to work a couple simple restructures on their end too, but I still think it happens. Maybe at next week's NFL League Meetings?

It just makes too much sense for both sides. There’s no rush. The offseason training program doesn’t start for another three weeks.

Hi Tim! I think the 2nd & 3rd round of the draft is just as important as the 1st. Who do you think the Lions can get there? Mayer Peter (@mayerpeter47)

20man: I agree, Mayer. it really depends on where they go at No. 10. If they go defense with the No. 10 overall pick, I’d fully expect a receiver to be taken in the second or third round, probably the second.

A player like LSU’s Odell Beckham III would be ideal if he’s still there in the second (probably not). Maybe a player like Vanderbilt’s Jordan Mathews. Oregon State’s Brandin Cooks could fill a role in the slot with Ryan Broyles.

If they grab a receiver like Mike Evans at No. 10, then expect them to quickly shift the focus to defense in rounds two and three.

They’ll need a young safety. Maybe Northern Illinois’ Jimmie Ward fits. A player I kind of like after talking with Ziggy Ansah, recently, is BYU linebacker Kyle Van Noy. Ansah told me Van Noy was the best player on their defense two years ago. Better than him.

What type of cost is it to keep (Shaun) Hill? He seems too valuable to let go of. Troy Hoehn (@lioncardtrader)

20man: It’s a legitimate question, Troy. How much do you value security? Here’s what head coach Jim Caldwell said at the NFL Scouting Combine last month:

“You want to have, if you can, a guy that can step in there and win you a few games,” he said.

“You hope you never have to play him, that’s the key. You hope that your guy stays healthy, but the reality of it is that it may not happen so you’ve got to have a guy that’s capable in that spot.”

Hill took home around $5.5 million the last two seasons with base salary and bonuses. He took 13 snaps over that span. It just comes down to how much the Lions value security.

For me, personally, I’d like to see him back. The expectation is to win now and if something happens to Matthew Stafford he can win the Lions games. He’s proven that over his career.

What is the most important part of a contract? Years? Base? Or guaranteed? Jeremy Praytor (@jpraytor9)

20man: Always look at the guarantees associated with a contract, Jeremy. That’s the meat and potatoes. As you know, contracts aren’t guaranteed in the NFL like they are in baseball and basketball. A player is only good to a team if he’s producing on the field. That’s simply the reality of this business.

Most of the time you can look at the first three years of any major deal as the best value. After that, annual base salaries usual increase dramatically and teams are more apt to go in another direction if production declines or there’s an organizational philosophy change.

Bonuses are guaranteed money and spread out throughout the length of the contract for salary cap purposes. That money is the players' no matter what.

Never look at the total number to a deal. Always try to find the guaranteed money. That’s the real value.

With the @DetroitLionsNFL almost out of cap space, how can they sign their upcoming draft class? Anthony L Martin Jr. (@bigamp221)

20man: I don't pretent to have a lot of salary cap knowledge, because quite frankly, it's too damn complicated and there are more factors that go into than most people could even begin to realize.

Suh could get his extension before the draft and that would obviously create some space.

But it really isn’t hard to find a few million bucks with some simple restructures. Lewand could find the cap space in a business day, probably less.

Mike EvansWR Mike Evans (Photo: AP Images)

That’s kicking the can down the road a bit, because those numbers come due, but don’t forget the cap is expecting to grow considerably over the next two years to as much as $160 million in 2016 by some accounts. If that’s the case, a few simple restructures now won’t have much affect in the long run.

Do you think Mike Evans is a good fit at 10 if the Lions miss out on Watkins? Michael P (@CorbinXplosion)

20man: I do, Michael.

A lot of people talk about that being a waste after getting Tate in free agency, but I think you have to take Johnson’s health and age into consideration, as well as the future.

How confident should Lions fans feel if Johnson were to miss any time in 2014 with the current receiving corps? I’d certainly feel better with a solid No. 2 and No. 3 who have the potential to become a No. 1 and No. 2, if needed.

Johnson will also turn 29 in September. I certainly wouldn’t put an age cap on a player as freakishly gifted as Megatron, but he takes a beating and he’s reaching 30. He probably has three or four years of prime production left. That is if the Lions can get him some help and allow him to play a few games with out three defenders gunning for his head and knees every time he touches the ball.

I know the defense needs help, but I think Evans can be a terrific down-the-field threat. He has a great pair of hands. He can make plays in crowds, despite a limited route tree and not possessing premiere speed.