Martin Mayhew says Detroit Lions will be "players" in free agency

Posted Feb 7, 2013

After deeming the Detroit Lions "non-players" in 2012, GM Martin Mayhew plans to make some moves in 2013

The Detroit Lions weren't players at all in free agency an offseason ago. Part of that was due to the team deciding to bring back 21 of 22 starters following a 10-6 season and part was because they didn't have much room under the cap.

What a difference a year makes.

By releasing Titus Young, Stephen Peterman and Kyle Vanden Bosch this week, the Lions saved $8.5 million toward next year's $121 million salary cap.

Matthew StaffordWith further cuts possible as well as potential restructuring and extending of contracts on the agenda – mainly quarterback Matthew Stafford and his $20-plus million cap number – Detroit Lions general manager Martin Mayhew said Thursday that he expects to be a much bigger player in free agency this year.

"We were non-players in free agency last year," Mayhew said. "I do think that we plan to make some moves."

Those changes are welcomed following a disappointing 4-12 season, but also necessary with 23 unrestricted free agents currently on the roster.

"We need to make some changes," Mayhew said. "Obviously, things aren't going in the right direction. I don't think they went in the right direction last year. We've got to make some changes and have to improve out roster, and we'll definitely make some moves in that direction."

The Lions were approximately $3 million over the cap when the week began, but find themselves now $5 million under with the chance to have considerably more room with additional actions.

"We can do some things with the guys we have and restructure some contracts," Mayhew said. "Going back to last year we had four guys worth $60 million and we were able to restructure those guys and create some room."

A lot of room could be saved with an extension of Stafford, which Mayhew says is high on his priority list. Stafford currently counts over $20 million toward the 2013 salary and $19 million in 2014.

"My thought on that is that we're going to try and extend him," Mayhew said. "At this point there hasn't been a whole lot of dialog about it but I think that's coming."

Mayhew admitted that getting a deal done with Stafford would be a challenge because of the position he he plays and the going rate in the NFL for starting quarterbacks. But also welcomes that challenge because he said negotiating contracts for good players is always a challenge.

It certainly beats the alternative.

Mayhew said right after the season that he's on the lookout for "playmakers", looking both in free agency and the draft.

The Lions can begin contract negotiations with free agents around the league March 9 and the free agency period officially opens March 12.