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Lions Mailbag: What should team do about George Johnson?

While a lot of the focus is on the Detroit Lions and the NFL draft, there are other issues surrounding the franchise now. There are still questions about what happened in free agency, what might happen with George Johnson and in-arena music -- the last of which is a great topic.

We'll answer those questions and more in this edition of the Lions Mailbag. To ask a question for the Mailbag, use the hashtag #LionsMailbag on Twitter, drop a note on Facebook here (and give a follow, too, so we can continue the discussion) or email at michael.rothstein@espn.com.

Now, on to your questions.

@mikerothstein: The simple answer, Eric, is worse. We'll cover some of this in more depth below, but the Lions lost their top three interior linemen and have only replaced two of them. They re-signed a good cornerback in Rashean Mathis, but he's also in his mid-30s, which is AARP-qualifying in NFL terms. Their second running back, as of now, has a career-long of nine yards rushing (Theo Riddick) and there are still questions at receiver beyond Golden Tate and Calvin Johnson. The left guard, if the season started with this roster, would be Rodney Austin or a forced move of Riley Reiff. The Reiff move, for now, won't happen. So while it's tough to judge the totality of the offseason until after the draft and really the start of training camp, right now it is tough to say the Lions have a better roster now than they did four months ago. There is potential there, specifically with Tyrunn Walker, Brandon Copeland and in the draft, but definitely a lot of questions remain.

@mikerothstein: While I haven't seen the actual particulars of the deal, the reported $9 million over three seasons is probably a bit steep for Detroit. Taking it even at its average of $3 million per year, that's almost double what the Lions had as an original-round tender on him. Seeing the tender should give an indication of Johnson's value to the Lions, especially because they could have tendered him for a second-round value for $2.356 million. If the Lions really believed he was worth what the reported Tampa offer is, they would have come closer to hitting that with the tender -- and forced compensation. So if I'm the Lions, I stick with what I originally decided and let him go, even if it does create another hole on the roster.

@mikerothstein: You should expect them to be at least average, especially because Ezekiel Ansah hasn't gone anywhere and Haloti Ngata is a good player. Don't expect the line, though, to be better than last year's version. Ndamukong Suh is the best interior lineman in the NFL. Nick Fairley, for all of his inconsistencies, was still an immensely talented player and, when he was properly motivated. could be a difference-maker. C.J. Mosley was a strong third interior lineman. All of them are gone, and while Ngata is a good player and Tyrunn Walker has potential, the threesome from 2014 will be better than the one for 2015. If George Johnson ends up with Tampa, the Lions have to hope the combination of Larry Webster, Devin Taylor, Darryl Tapp and Phillip Hunt can approximate that production. That seems more plausible, as Taylor has shown flashes and Webster has potential. So average? Yeah, you should at least expect that. Dominant? Elite? Not so much.

@mikerothstein: I am in agreement with this. Of course, I believe the "Safety Dance" should be played often, with the video from Men Without Hats played on the video board. But yes, this would make a lot of sense from a fun perspective. I'm not going to be the relayer of said message, but if anyone from the Lions is reading this, perhaps they'll see it. Since we're having this conversation -- and have at it in the comments -- what other song/event pairings would you like to see? If the Lions were really creative, they'd dig up old Dikembe Mutombo video this year for Darius Slay pass deflections because he admittedly has ripped off Mutombo's finger wag. But that's just me.

David asks via email: Why don't the lions trade Brandon Pettigrew for draft picks/cornerback/offensive line? I've been disappointed with his production. Thoughts?

Rothstein: This is a somewhat complicated question. Pettigrew's "production" last season was tough to gauge because he wasn't asked to really be a tight end who catches passes. He was mostly used as a blocking tight end because the Lions had Eric Ebron and, for a few games, Joseph Fauria in those roles. Of course, this could make you wonder why the Lions threw to Pettigrew in the fourth quarter in the playoffs against Dallas, but that's another question. It all depends on trade value for Pettigrew, and I don't get the sense there is a lot of it. That's not a knock on Pettigrew, but more of how the NFL works with draft picks. Plus, if the Lions traded Pettigrew, they would have to find another blocking tight end, and that would require a draft pick. I just don't see it happening. I think there are Lions who could bring something in as trade value. But if I'm the Lions, I'm not moving Pettigrew.