If there was any doubt about the Detroit Lions’ desire to retain their most important free agents, Jim Schwartz removed it today when speaking at the NFL Combine.
He is very important to us. When you have a guy that’s young, fits the scheme and you can continue to build with, those guys are very important to us. Cliff is an impact player and we look forward to keeping impact players.
Stephen is a guy that fits our system very well. He’s young. He’s tremendously durable, he’s tremendously productive. I think he can be a big part of what we’re doing in Detroit. I think our linebackers were much improved last year. We still have work to do on defense, but guys like Justin Durant, Stephen Tulloch made a big difference on our defense.
Left tackle, number one, is a very important position. I think the fact there has been movies and books written on it now validates that. I think that Jeff has obviously been an incredibly consistent and durable player for us over a long period of time, over a decade. I think we want to be in a position of keeping good players rather than trying to find out ways to get rid of bad ones, and Jeff certainly fits into keeping the good ones.
It remains to be seen whether or not the Lions can re-sign these three guys without clearing cap space first. One of the ways that could be accomplished is by agreeing to an extension with Calvin Johnson. Schwartz touched on that situation as well:
We still have a long way to go. Calvin is important to us, obviously. But it’s not as easy as just saying, ‘Hey, we want him around and he wants to be around.’ There’s a lot more to it. Hopefully, when it’s all said and done, he’ll be a Lion for life.
It’s easy to say that a team wants to keep good players around but being able to make it happen is another story. Stay tuned.