Friday, the Detroit Lions chose an interesting way to create cap space to sign Eric Ebron. It had nothing to do with restructuring a certain contract, though.
They slashed Chris Houston, their top cornerback, from the roster. The move to cut Houston, who was attempting to come back after toe surgery, will save the team money under the salary cap.
What it might not save the team, however, is more frustration on the field. Houston, though he routinely struggled in key spots, could be counted on to occupy a spot on the field and hold his own most of the time as a veteran.
Can the same be said for the trio of Jonte Green, Chris Greenwood and Cassius Vaughn? Of course not. All of them have some serious growing to do. Darius Slay is essentially a redshirt freshman who must continue learning on the job. The elder statesman? Rashean Mathis, the most extreme version of the term at 33 years old. Also in the mix is Nevin Lawson, who’s never yet seen an NFL snap.
Since taking over, Jim Caldwell has routinely stated the time is now as it relates to the Lions and their designs of winning in 2014. But a secondary featuring the names above and their litany of issues isn’t a quick way to instant success. Between Green, Greenwood, Slay and Lawson, chances are, there will be a significant learning curve. Mathis must stay healthy, and Vaughn must contribute well right away, considering he was the biggest free agency addition.
Those are a few too many questions for a team with designs of making the playoffs can afford. Now, without Houston, the pressure’s on literally everyone else to step up and deliver immediate results. At least with Houston in the fold, the Lions had one other experienced defensive back to rely on, regardless of his propensity to get burned or questions about health.
This coming year, Houston’s toe rehab had better be as taxing as assumed and the Lions’ other prospects must develop. Otherwise, it’s going to be a season with plenty of questions. Amongst the biggest: why didn’t Detroit make finding a cornerback a larger priority, either in free agency, earlier in the draft of through a trade, especially if they were going to cut Houston anyway?
Whether or not that question becomes a major issue will revolve around how everyone else responds to some very intense fire from pressure. Either plenty in Detroit’s cast of many will get burned, or some will end up becoming diamonds.
The process of finding out might prove no less painful for everyone.