The NFL free agency period is rapidly approaching and the Detroit Lions haven’t even been able to begin salary cap saving extension talks with Ndamukong Suh. For whatever reason, it is taking longer for Suh to make a decision on a new agent than anyone would have thought with the latest news saying he may represent himself.
That has led to some hand-wringing from fans and local media personalities as the Lions face a gargantuan $22.3 million 2014 cap number with Suh with the window for freeing up some of that space for free agent spending rapidly closing.
But should it?
The consternation was certainly justified several weeks ago, but since that time the Lions have cleared cap space by releasing the likes of Nate Burleson, Louis Delmas and Leroy Harris and the league set a 2014 salary cap number much higher than what was originally projected.
The Lions salary cap situation has changed pretty dramatically but the talk about Suh’s situation on local airwaves hasn’t adjusted accordingly. One would think the Lions are still hamstrung by Suh’s large cap number with free agency set to open but that just isn’t the case.
This time last year the Lions were active in free agency and addressed needs at cornerback (re-signed Chris Houston), safety (signed Glover Quin, re-signed Louis Delmas), running back (signed Reggie Bush) and defensive end (signed Jason Jones). The total cost against the 2013 salary cap was less than $9.5 million.
Depending on which salary cap tracking website you look at, the Lions are currently somewhere around $11 million under the cap. The Lions were able to plug some holes with less a year ago and while they don’t have enough to be major players in free agency, there isn’t any reason to expect they would have been anyway, even with some extra cap space through a Suh extension.
Extending Suh has to remain a priority as the Lions will need cap space to sign their rookie class and an allowance to deal with injuries during the season, but that can come later. For now, the Lions have enough space to work the market and address some pressing needs.