Going into this offseason there was a lot of speculation in what Detroit was going to do in regards to free agency. Some reports said the team was going after Reggie Bush (which they ultimately did) while other reports suggested Detroit was up against the cap and couldn’t do a whole lot. Furthermore it was already determined that the Lions were destined to lose all their free agents and fall further into NFL obscurity.
But that didn’t happen, in fact the Lions had one of the better free agent hauls of any team in the League.
And why? Because their big stars stepped up.
Ndamukong Suh restructured his deal that will save Detroit $7.68 million dollars on their cap hit this year, something that can’t go unnoticed. The Lions defensive tackle is often criticized for a variety of reasons, from the stomp and being a dirty player to not being more of a vocal leader. This is in addition to the various off field issues he’s had, notably the traffic incidents. Everyone wants to focus on the bad but with Suh you have to acknowledge the good too.
In addition though to the restructuring, Suh has also indicated he wants to win a Super Bowl with Detroit and has helped lobby for free agents. Hopefully after Suh’s positive actions this offseason, fans start to quell their questions on his loyalty and overall character.
But Suh isn’t the only star player on the team that stepped up big this offseason.
Calvin Johnson saved Detroit another $3.4 million dollars against the cap just one year after signing the richest deal for a wide out in NFL history. And much like Suh, Megatron stepped up when he absolutely didn’t have to. This is especially significant given Johnson certainly deserves every penny in his contract and is without a doubt one of the games best players. More importantly though he’s displaying his leadership (like Suh) and his desire to win here in Detroit (also like Suh).
Other noted players that took cuts were center Dominic Raiola, wide and receiver Nate Burleson.
Raiola was due to take up a $6.1 million dollar cap hit but reworked a deal to sign for the veteran minimum. Meanwhile Burleson’s restructure created another $5.5 million dollars.
— Nathaniel E Burleson (@Nate13Burleson) February 22, 2013
All together Lions players have saved the team roughly $27 million dollars in cap money.
The Lions have had no problem moving past an old reputation of players not wanting to come to Detroit as well as players wanting out of the organziation. The Lions have superstars and veterans alike doing what’s necessary to stay here and get Detroit to where they need to be. These players stepping up have resulted in Reggie Bush, Jason Jones, Glover Quin coming aboard as well as the team being able to bring back Chris Houston and Louis Delmas.
Stars stepping up off the field is just another ingredient for success on the field.