BBAO: Lions have some cap work left

We're Black and Blue All Over:

Take a moment to breathe it all in. Monday is the final full day of the NFL's 2011 league year. The "New Year" will begin Tuesday at 4 p.m. -- the moment when all teams must be in compliance with the $120.6 million salary cap, when free agents can begin signing with new teams and trades can be officially consummated.

Some work remains between now and then, however. We are awaiting word on what restricted free agents were issued tenders, and which (if any) will be allowed to depart without compensation. And we'll need to see what the Detroit Lions do to shave more than $11 million in cap space.

The Lions were $11.55 million above the cap as of the end of last week, according to Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press. That roughly jibes with our recent cap conversations that had them close to $121 million before they committed another $10.6 million to place the franchise tag on defensive end Cliff Avril.

If the Lions can't lower their number by signing receiver Calvin Johnson to a contract extension, they'll need either to start releasing players or seek significant contract restructures. Stay tuned.

Skipping around the division on this merry Monday: