Detroit Lions and the DeAndre Levy Contract Situation


One could argue the fact that Detroit Lions outside linebacker DeAndre Levy is the most underrated defenseman in the National Football League. What you cannot dispute is that people will begin to realize just how good he is if he becomes an unrestricted free agent in 2016.

Depending on who you ask, there is still a bad taste in the mouths of many Lions fans following Ndamukong Suh‘s departure to the Miami Dolphins this offseason.

Reports floated around for months that Lions general manager Martin Mayhew and Suh’s agent Jimmy Sexton were close to a deal and that it was likely just a matter of time until an agreement was reached.

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While there was some speculation and uneasiness in the Motor City as the official beginning of NFL Free Agency approached on March 10, there didn’t seem to be a tremendous amount of worry that Suh would leave the team that drafted him in the first round of the 2010 NFL Draft.

And then came this tweet from ESPN NFL insider Chris Mortenson:

Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

Since that rather inauspicious day back in March, it’s safe to say that Lions fans have moved on — for the most part anyways.

With Suh gone, the attention shifts to what’s important moving forward — the guys we still have on the roster and the future of this team.

Suh was considered the so-called “nucleus” on the Detroit Lions No. 2 ranked defense of a year ago. With the Pro Bowler gone, one of the pressing questions of the 2015 offseason has been who will step up in his place.

It’s debatable who is best poised to lead this team moving forward. Guys like Stephen Tulloch, Haloti Ngata and Ziggy Ansah are the names often brought up, however the guy best suited for the job could be DeAndre Levy.

Levy has quietly inserted himself as one of the premier outside linebackers in the NFL today. In 2014, he led the league in solo tackles and was only two behind Carolina Panthers, Luke Kuechly‘s 153 total tackles. In 2013, he had the second most interceptions, league-wide.

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Despite the outstanding play, Levy is nearly an unknown commodity amongst NFL fans outside of Wisconsin and Michigan. Some of that can be attributed to the position he plays — the 4-3 OLB. This day in age, the 3-4 EDGE guys are what everyone is talking about, however Levy could be on the verge of changing that if he happens to become an unrestricted free agent in eight months when his current deal expires.

“I’d try to get that thing done before David’s deal hits the market. Once you got David in the marketplace — and I’m assuming that’s going to be a strong deal — that will be a focal point of discussions, or that’s going to be an important data point, at least from the agent’s mind and the player’s mind.” – Joel Corry, former NFL Agent

If the Lions want to avoid losing another defensive cornerstone, they’ll likely need to make Levy the highest paid player at his position. And it’s in their best interest to try to reach an agreement sooner rather than later.

The first deal to be reached, whether it is Levy’s or Tampa Bay Buccaneer Lavonte David’s, will likely set the bar for deals of its kind moving forward.

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According to, only two 4-3 outside linebackers, K.J. Wright of the Seattle Seahawks and Vontaze Burfict of the Cincinnati Bengals, make more than $6 million per year, both on extensions signed last season.

Levy has been one of the NFL’s biggest bargains since inking a three-year, $9.7-million extension in 2013. David is entering the last year of the rookie deal he got as the 58th pick of the 2012 draft.

If David’s deal comes first, Levy will reap the reward.

"“If you want to get paid a lot of money as an outside linebacker, you need to be a pass rusher, which he isn’t,” Corry said. “So his best bet for maximum compensation is to not be in a rush for a deal, to let Lavonte David hopefully set that market for the non-pass-rushing outside linebacker, and then use that deal to make his case for a better deal.”"

Unlike a year ago, when the Lions organization decided to table contract talks with Suh until after the season, they are already hard at work on negotiations with Levy and his agent. While remaining focused on the task at hand on the field for the upcoming season, retaining a guy the caliber of Levy is equally as crucial.

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