LIONS INSIDER

10 Questions: What does the re-signing of Corey Hilliard mean for Gosder Cherilus?

Posted Mar 2, 2013

Detroitlions.com lead writer Tim Twentyman expands on fan questions from his regular live chat

Every week during the season I do a live chat on Detroitlions.com sponsored by Huntington Bank. I’ll continue to chat from time-to-time this offseason as important dates come up (Senior Bowl, Super Bowl, free agency, draft, etc…).

I can never get to all the questions in the chat because of the time constraints and the fact that I'm not the world's fastest typist. The nature of online chats doesn't lend itself to expansive answers, either.

So, after each chat, I'll pick 10 good questions that I either didn't get to or would like to expand upon. I might also throw in a few here and there from my Twitter account, @ttwentyman.

Q. What does the re-signing of Corey Hilliard do to the Gosder Cherilus era in Detroit? From Marvin

A. I always thought the Cherilus era might be at an end, even before the re-signing of Hilliard.

Cherilus is a solid right tackle, one that could command more on the open market than the Lions will probably be willing to pay.

There are concerns about the long-term health of his knees.

More than anything else, though, the Lions feel younger players like Riley Reiff and Jason Fox are ready to contribute. Corey Hilliard will be in that mix, too.

Q. Why does best player available continue to be the philosophy for the Lions? From Turner

A. BPA doesn’t mean what you think it means. There is a level of need that is considered with that.

If there are players with equal grades, then need does become part of the equation.

It’s not strictly a case where the guy on the top of the board is the pick, no matter what. If the best player available is a quarterback or a defensive tackle, it’s a safe bet the Lions won’t be as interested in, say, a defensive end, safety or offensive lineman with a grade very close.

Let’s also not forget that needs are always changing because of injury. Defensive tackle and receiver were not needs at the beginning of last season. By the end of the season, the Lions were signing guys off the street to play both. Having talented players is a need.

The Lions can’t go into the draft saying, 'We’re weak at cornerback or safety, so we have to take one.' At what cost would drafting said need come at? Passing on an offensive tackle that grades out to be a better player in the long run?

I don’t think this is as big of an issue this year because the Lions could use help at pretty much every position outside of quarterback and defensive tackle. I think any position they take at No. 5 can be considered addressing a need.

Q. What’s Lions receiving corps looking like? From Grant

A. Right now it’s heavy in the slot and thin on the outside. I guess I have to use the term "thin" lightly considering Calvin Johnson is out there, but there isn’t a whole lot after Megatron on the outside.

Nate Burleson, Ryan Broyles and Mike Thomas are all more natural and productive in the slot, though Burleson can play on the outside, too.

Kris Durham, Brian Robiskie and Patrick Edwards could compete for a spot vacated by Titus Young’s dismissal, but it seems more likely the Week 1 starter on the outside -- opposite Johnson -- isn’t yet on the roster.

Q. Do you see Lions signing a free agent running back? From Jason

A. I know you wanted to ask me if the Lions are going after Reggie Bush. They’ll inquire, which is no surprise to anyone. He fits the profile they’re looking for.

I think the price has to be absolutely right, though. I’m not a big fan of signing Bush at a $5 million price tag with all the other needs the Lions have.

However it works out, there will be a speed back in the mix for the Lions in 2013, whether it’s Bush, another free agent or a rookie.

Q. How much cap space do they have right now? And how much could we save with Stafford’s contract? From Antoine

A. The releases of Titus Young, Kyle Vanden Bosch and Stephen Peterman saved the team approximately $8.5 million and the restructures of Nate Burleson and Dominic Raiola around another $5 million.

The NFL salary cap for the 2013 season is expected to rise from $120.6 million to $123 million, according to an Associated Press report.

That puts the Lions about $9 million under right now, but that doesn’t include the terms of Corey Hilliard’s new deal, or the pool of money that’ll be needed for restricted free agent tenders and the rookie pool.

Restricted free agent tenders for 2013 are: $2.879 million (first round), $2.023 (second) and $1.323 (original).

Stafford’s cap number right now is over $20 million.

We do have a model to go by when looking at a mega extension like the one Stafford is in line to get.

Calvin Johnson had a cap number of over $21 million last offseason before signing his $132 million extension. By signing the deal, Johnson lowered his cap number by nearly $10 million.

That kind of savings could buy a few free agents for the Lions in 2013.

Q. Now that you’ve seen the players at the Combine, who’s the best pick at No. 5? From Giovani

A. We’re still two months away from the draft with pro days yet to come.

It’ll also depend on how free agency plays out and what needs they fill there, too.

That being said, I think if one of the two top tackles are there – Luke Joeckel or Eric Fisher – it’ll be hard to pass up.

There aren’t a lot of athletic 300-pound young men walking the earth. When one falls in your lap, snatch him up.

I can also make a case for a cornerback like Dee Milliner or one of the pass rushers, but I just think the Lions can’t pass on a opportunity to get a top tackle at position of value that high.

It allows a lot of flexibility upfront with their line.

Lawrence Jackson

Q. How important is resigning Lawrence Jackson? From David

A. It’s important, but becomes extremely important if Cliff Avril finds a good deal in free agency and bolts.

As it stands right now, the only defensive end under contract in 2013 for the Lions is Ronnell Lewis. Lewis, if you remember, played one snap on defense last year.

Willie Young is a restricted free agent, and will be tendered, but he was a little disappointing last year and failed to record a sack.

It’s unclear if Jackson can take the next step and assume a starting role after being a reserve for the last three seasons. He did have six sacks in 11 games for the Lions in 2010.

Jackson’s 2.5 sacks last season were a little disappointing, but the Lions could be in a real need for edge rushers.

Q. When and where do you see the Lions addressing their need at receiver? From Clarkster

A. The Lions are on the lookout for a solid No. 2 outside receiver who can extend the field opposite Calvin Johnson.

To me, that kind of player is better found in free agency if one of their current candidates on the roster doesn't emerge. The Lions need a proven receiver with a resume of performance.

This is a very deep free agent class and players like Brian Hartline, Brandon Gibson and others would fit the bill at a reasonable price.

Taking a receiver past the first couple rounds are more of a crapshoot in the draft.

Q. Which of our rookie cornerbacks from last year has the most impact in 2013? From Sam

A. The easy answer there is Bill Bentley, because he’ll enter the offseason as a starter.

Watch out for Chris Greenwood, though. He’s long, fast and athletic. He missed all of 2012 because of a torn abdominal muscle, but he did get to practice a little bit over a three-week span when the Lions were deciding to take him off the Physically Unable to Perform list, and he was in the meeting room all year.

We’ll know early in the spring how much that helped him. He has a high ceiling. Some people I’ve talked to within the organization are very high on his potential.

Q. How much does (it) cost to sign draft picks, roughly? From Frank Ribble

A. It’s a whole different ball game nowadays with the rookie wage scale.

No longer are the Lions dishing out $72 and $68 million deals to their top draft picks.

According to my count on the scale, the six draft picks for the Lions in 2013 (not including compensatory picks they might receive) will count for approximately $6.2 million towards the 2013 salary cap.