"Around the League" is taking a look at each team's salary-cap situation heading into training camp. We continue with the Detroit Lions.
Adjusted cap number: $124.766 million
Cap room remaining: $3.776 million (Total will decrease by around $1 million once first-round pick Riley Reiff signs.)
Best bargain: Brandon Pettigrew has evolved into one of the game's more complete tight ends, catching 83 passes for 777 yards and five touchdowns last season while providing the offense with a solid in-line blocker. According to official playing-time documents, only four tight ends logged over 1,000 snaps last season, and Pettigrew was one of them (Rob Gronkowski, Heath Miller and Jason Witten were the others). Entering the fourth year of his five-year rookie contract, the 2009 first-round draft pick will earn $1.0625 million in base salary this season.
Potential camp casualty: In a normal season, Corey Williams would be primed to be a camp casualty. The Lions have used multiple first-round picks on defensive tackles in recent seasons, and Williams turns 32 in August and is scheduled to make $4.9 million in base salary in the final year of his contract. But with Nick Fairley's off-the-field issues, the Lions are unlikely to release the effective Williams. Outside linebacker Justin Durant is a two-down player who is scheduled to earn $1.75 million in non-guaranteed base salary in the final year of his deal. The Lions have some promising young talent at the position (Doug Hogue, Tahir Whitehead) who could step up and supplant Durant this summer.
Contract issue looming in 2013: After not reaching a multiyear extension before Monday's franchise deadline, defensive end Cliff Avril will be the biggest contractual issue facing the Lions next offseason. The 2008 third-round pick has 30 sacks in his 57-game career, including 11 while playing on the restricted free-agent tender in 2011. Our own Albert Breer reported Monday that Avril turned down a three-year, $30 million contract that included $20 million in guaranteed money, an offer that effectively ended talks.
From Avril's point of view, that's understandable. It would cost the Lions $12.726 million to franchise Avril next year, a two-year haul of $23.331 million in fully guaranteed base salary. Then there's the issue of what pass-rushing defensive ends can earn as unrestricted free agents. Last July, Carolina Panthers defensive end Charles Johnson parlayed 21.5 career sacks over four seasons, including an 11.5-sack season in 2010, into a six-year, $76 million contract that included a $30 million signing bonus. Though I can't say with 100 percent certitude, it would not come as a surprise to learn that Avril's camp was seeking $30 million in guaranteed money and didn't take too kindly to a $30 million contract offer where just two-thirds was guaranteed.