Detroit Lions coach Jim Caldwell says he took players out to dinner during the offseason to serve them better as their leader. Caldwell believes coaching is a service business. Jim Schwartz never seemed to say anything like that during his five years with the Lions. Caldwell has had a calming presence on his new team and at least a couple players say his approach is a refreshing change.
Detroit Lions running back Joique Bell says a lot of people counted him out when he was undrafted out of Wayne State. Four years later, Bell has established himself as player valued enough to get a multimillion-dollar contract. Bell was back on his college field Wednesday night with his NFL teammates for a public practice. He won the Harlon Hill Trophy as the NCAA Division II Player of the Year in 2009, but no one drafted him.
Matthew Stafford became the Detroit Lions’ all-time leading passer last season. He finished last season with 17,457 yards passing to surpass Hall of Famer Bobby Layne’s team record, but he threw five interceptions during a late three-game skid that dropped the Lions out of playoff contention. He’s still looking to regain his form from his only playoff season, when he ended 2011 with 5,038 yards and 41 touchdown passes with just 16 interceptions. ”Our head coach has been to Super Bowls, has won Super Bowls,” he said of head coach Jim Caldwell, who won Super Bowls as an assistant coach in Tampa Bay and Baltimore and was hired after Detroit fired Jim Schwartz at the end of a 7-9 season.
Detroit Lions president Tom Lewand and general manager Martin Mayhew said the team tabled discussions with two-time All-Pro defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh until after the 2014 season, but they remain focused on keeping Suh in Detroit. Suh said he likes playing for the Lions, but did not want to comment on the contract negotiations ending. –Wide receiver Golden Tate, the Lions’ top free-agent signee, was taken off the active physically unable to perform list in time to practice Monday, the first day of training camp. –Linebacker Kyle Van Noy, the second-round pick, missed most of practice after suffering a thumb injury, but said he hopes to return to practice Tuesday.
Detroit Lions president told the media Monday that the team will table contract talks with free-agent-to-be defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh until after the completion of the season.
Lewand wouldn’t rule out using the franchise tag to keep Suh next year, just said a lot of options on table — Dave Birkett (@davebirkett) July 28, 2014
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Although Lewand said he’s optimistic the team can find a way to make the deal happen, Suh’s massive 2014 base salary of $22.5 million (!) means that his franchise-tag number will be a whopping $27 million (!!) next year.
If the Lions are nuts enough to tag Suh at that level, he should just sign the franchise tender and collect the guaranteed pile of cash. It would be more than what Baltimore Ravens defensive lineman Haloti Ngata received for guaranteed money for his entire extension and $11 million more than what Suh’s teammate, Calvin Johnson, received in the form of a signing bonus a year and a half ago.
This one is going to be extremely tough. The Lions, of course, don’t have to make Suh their franchise player, but if they can’t sign him now and Suh plays at an All Pro level this season, the price for an extension only goes up. And in Suh’s mind — one that’s tricky to crack — he might think his value should break the bank after this season even if he does not play at an elite level.
Suh is a very good player whose inconsistencies have been a tad frustrating. He’s better than most of the defensive tackles in the NFL, and Suh occasionally has played at a very high level. But the Lions always appear to be wanting just a little more. We’ll need to see how he fares with a new head coach and defensive coordinator, but you might be able to make the argument that Gerald McCoy — taken one slot after Suh in the 2010 draft — might have passed him as a player.
You get the feeling that the Lions are putting up a good front on their chances to re-sign Suh one day, but they can’t really be feeling too good deep down. That franchise number would be cap-crippling to use on a quarterback, much less a defensive tackle, even one as talented as Suh. It’s just not feasible unless it’s a vehicle toward getting him signed for the long term.
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Eric Edholm is a writer for Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Eric_Edholm