There are ultimately many factors that go into deciding the final Detroit Lions roster. The most important factors involve talent and proper execution, but other factors like money, special teams play, and familiarity all go into the final decision, rightly or not.
As much as fans hate to admit to it, there is a very real business side to the NFL. Teams are not building the best Madden team they can, gathering the biggest sum of highly rated players. Knowledge of the playbook, team chemistry, upside, and salary cap all play a part in building the final roster.
Andrew Brandt describes this perfectly over at The MMQB:
While we would like to believe that all roster decisions are football driven and independent of any financial considerations, decision-makers are certainly aware of which players are vested and the liability attached to them. More and more, vested veterans are being replaced by younger (cheaper) players and the contract advantages that teams have over them. For those who haven’t been paying attention, the business of football usually wins out.
Each team has a person, regardless of title, that has to make the final say on the roster. For the Detroit Lions that person is Martin Mayhew. It’s important to understand this when trying to figure out which guys will stay and which ones will go. If the general manager is making the final decisions he may sway his choices more toward the future, whereas the head coach is more concerned with winning now. It’s up to Mayhew to make the final decision based on all the information he’s gotten from his coaching staff and personnel department.
I’ll never be an NFL general manager, but I’ll do my best to put myself in Mayhew’s shoes as the final cuts need to be made. Rather than simply predict who is in and who is out, here is the roster broken down into three tiers: The locks, tough choices, and easy cuts.