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Offseason Forecast: Detroit Lions

With the offseason officially under way, Around The League will examine what's next for all 32 teams.


With the offseason underway, Around The League explores what's next for all 32 teams.

AFC East
» Bills | Dolphins | Jets | Patriots
AFC North
» Bengals | Browns | Ravens | Steelers
AFC South
» Colts | Jaguars | Texans | Titans
AFC West
» Broncos | Chargers | Chiefs | Raiders
NFC East
» Cowboys | Eagles | Giants | Redskins
NFC North
» Bears | Lions | Packers | Vikings
NFC South
» Buccaneers | Falcons | Panthers | Saints
NFC West
» Cardinals | 49ers | Rams | Seahawks

What's changing

The biggest change in Detroit already took place with the overhaul of the coaching staff. Jim Caldwell and offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi hope to help "fix" quarterback Matthew Stafford. The Lions currently sit about $5 million above the projected cap figure and likely won't be in play for most free agents -- certainly not until they can lower Ndamukong Suh's $22.4 million cap figure.

Biggest free agents


» TE Brandon Pettigrew: The athletic tight end's production shrank last season after three straight 500-plus yard seasons. His drops have frustrated Lions fans during his five-year stint in the Motor City. However, he provided a much-needed target over the middle.

» DE Willie Young: The Lions need edge pass rushers to go with rookie Ziggy Ansah. Young was the most consistent player from the defensive end position in 2013. He shouldn't attract big money, but the question is whether the Lions will be able to afford him at any price.

» CB Rashean Mathis: The veteran was Detroit's best cornerback last season. A team in desperate need of DBs would be hard-pressed to watch one walk out the door.

Other key free agents:. QB Shaun Hill, K David Akers

What they need


Upgrading the cornerback position has been atop the needs list for years, it's no different in 2014 and should be priority número uno. Wide receiver depth behind Calvin Johnson is another big issue. Linebacker depth is also something general manager Martin Mayhew should look to address.

On the way out?


» S Louis Delmas: Delmas' status on this list is based on the fact that he would save the Lions a projected $6 million if cut. While he finally stayed healthy for 16 games, Detroit's money constraints could put him on the chopping block.

» WR Nate Burleson: Another money issue. The veteran will not make the $7.5 million he's scheduled to earn. Burleson has suggested he'd take a pay cut to stay in Detroit; the question is whether he'd take $5 million less. While he can produce in the Lions offense, given his age and injury concerns the past two seasons, Mayhew might decide to move on.

» RB Mikel Leshoure: It's time Detroit cuts ties with the second-round draft pick who had two carries in 2013.

Offseason crystal ball


Suh will get his contract extension. The defensive tackle holds all the negotiating cards and Detroit can't afford to lose him or keep his outrageous cap figure. Pettigrew will find a team willing to pay more for his athleticism. Running back Joique Bell (RFA) will get a multi-year deal to keep him paired with Reggie Bush.

We asked the crystal ball if Caldwell could completely fix Stafford's footwork; it replied: Outlook murky.

On the latest edition of the "Around The League Podcast," the guys talk Michael Sam, potential big-name cap casualties and offseason forecasts for the Steelers and Jaguars.

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