Last season the Lions and Tigers made a big splash in resigning Calvin Johnson and signing free agent Prince Fielder. This season it looks like an even bigger batch of signings will have to occur for both teams.
Matthew Stafford has a cap hit of over $20 million for this season and with that the Lions will have very little space under the cap to try to resign the 23 free agents they have. Job one for Martin Mayhew and Tom Lewand is to try to get that number down.
At the NFL Combine Mayhew spoke of the work that needs to be done in free agency:
I’ll put it like this, and maybe you guys can identify it, but there are about nine guys that we’re really focused on… There’s a bunch of other guys, and we’re in contact with them. But there’s some guys that we’re very focused on, and I won’t prioritize it. But that’s where we are.
Stafford never should have been making that much money in the first place; this contract is a reminder of the old ways of rookie contracts. He never should have had such a large cap hit, but now the Lions are stuck with it and ever deal thereafter will be the same way as well.
Is he worth a lot of money, yes. That much? Not a chance until he starts leading this team to the playoffs year in and year out.
On the flip side Justin Verlander told Yahoo! Sports that he wants to be the first $200 million pitcher in baseball history. And that he wants to do it in Detroit, which is good.
Some Tigers fans have worried if Verlander wants to be here for his entire career, which is something that he talked about with Jeff Passan:
I’ve gotten conflicting stories out there, and it’s because I’ve said conflicting things. I’ve come out and said I love Detroit, love the idea of playing my entire career in Detroit, and I do. But also free agency is a cool idea. I can see how it came across as a mixed message.
A seven-year contract of over $200 million sounds risky, especially to a pitcher. But Verlander has proved time and again that he is healthy and an innings horse for the Tigers with at least 30 starts since 2006 and over 200 innings since 2007.
The only knock on giving JV this money is performance in the World Series. His ERA is 7.20 in 15 innings of three starts, not the numbers of an ace. But Justin loves it here and would love another chance to improve those numbers and bring a championship here to Detroit.
Why would he stay to do it? Passan ended his column on Verlander with this:
“I [expletive] love Detroit,” Verlander said.
Detroit loves you JV.