New Lions GM Bob Quinn is deep in the evaluation process of his team, and he's got a lot of big decisions to make this offseason.
One of the first things Quinn had to figure out was if the talent on this team was more indicative of the 11-5 season in 2014 and the 6-2 finish to end this past season, or the 1-7 start in 2015 that derailed the season?
Lions team president Rod Wood said in his introductory press conference back in November that he didn't think this was a complete rebuild project in Detroit. He referenced the 11-5 season in 2014 and then after this past season was quick to mention the 6-2 finish, though it should be pointed out that record was against lesser opponents.
Wood reiterated his belief last week at the Super Bowl in San Francisco that this team is closer to being a contender than not.
"Not going to make any predictions, but I'm pretty optimistic," he said of the 2016 season. "We have some things we have to fill on the player side. Luckily, we have a lot of draft picks. We're going to have some cap space and, you know, Bob kind of knows where he wants to fill some of those holes and has already started identifying opportunities to do that."
The Lions have to address some needs on both lines, linebacker, depth in the secondary and receiver, especially if Calvin Johnson goes through with his expected retirement.
The good thing, as Wood mentioned, is the Lions could potentially have up to $40 million in cap space and double-digit draft picks.
Some of the key decisions will be re-signing some of their unrestricted free agents like Haloti Ngata, Tyrunn Walker and Isa Abdul-Quddus. How many members of the terrific 2013 draft class will get extensions heading into their last seasons? Darius Slay could be tops on that list. Then there are decisions to be made about some aging veterans under contract, most notably linebacker Stephen Tulloch.
"You can't really predict what's going to happen in free agency," Wood said. "A lot of guys will get signed by their own teams, so you're not even going to have a chance to talk to them.
"And then you don't know what the draft's going to hold, but having a lot of picks is helpful. I'm confident we've got the right team now to hopefully maximize the value of those picks."