Nate Burleson and other restructures allow the Detroit Lions to get better

Posted Feb 28, 2013

Nate Burleson made good on a promise to help the Lions in any way he could by restructuring his contract last week to give the team more cap space

Nate Burleson

Last week, Nate Burleson tweeted a photo of his restructured contract to more than 100,000 of his Twitter followers.

Along with the photos, Burleson had this to say:

"When I said I was gonna "Retire a Lion", I meant it! Restructure = Stronger Lions = A Better Team = #LIONDBLOOD 20'13'"

The veteran receiver made good on his promise after the season, when he said he'd do anything in his power to help the team turn it around and get back to its winning ways of 2011. The restructure saves the Lions approximately $2.5 million toward the 2013 salary cap.

Center Dominic Raiola did the same thing and saved the team approximately $3 million, and there are a couple more restructures in the works before we get to free agency, Detroit Lions general manager Martin Mayhew told reporters at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis.

"He's really important to what we're doing," Mayhew said. "Obviously he's a very good player. He was injured last year but we missed his leadership when he was out. He brings a lot to the table."

Burleson caught 27 passes through the first six weeks of the 2012 season before breaking his leg in a loss to the Bears on Monday Night Football in October. His loss was felt not only on the field, but also in the locker room.

"He makes plays for us," Mayhew said. "He moves the chains on third down. He's a great teammate, a great guy to have in the locker room, a solid veteran presence for our team.

"We've been talking about needing more leaders - he's one of the leaders we need."

Burleson has caught 155 passes for 1,622 yards and 11 touchdowns in 36 games over three seasons with the Lions. He's also been a leader and role model since the day he signed his free agent deal with the team prior to the 2010 season.

Though he's never been officially designated a captain, he does everything in the locker room, in the meeting room and on the field that a captain should do - maybe even more. He's an important piece to the puzzle.

"We need all of our veteran leaders," said Mayhew, "whether they have a C on their chest or not."