ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- The Detroit Lions open organized team activities this week and are finally able to get on the field as a full team in a more functional fashion.
While it’ll be the beginning of the learning process for potential impact players in the 2016 season, there are a bunch of questions about the future -- and what could happen with Matthew Stafford.
That question and more are answered in this week’s Lions' mailbag. To ask a question for the mailbag, use the hashtag #LionsMailbag on Twitter, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or use my Facebook page here.
Now, on to your questions.
@mikerothstein: At this point I can't see them making any massive splashes for players because there's not going to be the need for it. Detroit might sign a few more veterans at reasonable prices and then use some of that money to put toward extensions for some of the 2013 draft class, including Darius Slay, Theo Riddick and possibly Sam Martin, Devin Taylor and Larry Warford. There's also good reason to hang on to some money since it'll give Detroit more flexibility for the 2017 offseason, both for big-money contracts for Ezekiel Ansah and Matthew Stafford and free agency.
@mikerothstein: It should allow Stafford to essentially focus even more on throwing to the guy who is open instead of sometimes forcing the ball to Calvin Johnson. Stafford's point that he will more than likely see what he's studying during the week on game days should hold true for a bit as well, so that can be helpful for him, too. There should be more offensive variation because I would expect Johnson's targets to be split between four different players: Marvin Jones, Golden Tate, Theo Riddick and Eric Ebron.
@mikerothstein: While the Lions and Matthew Stafford did benefit from a much easier schedule during the second half of the 2015 season, Jim Bob Cooter's offense had consistent numbers every week, so that showed improvement. Consider this: The Lions were over 300 yards of offense in each game the final seven games of the season, so while there weren't any explosive games, there was a level of consistency. And considering Detroit's issues during the first half of the season, that was progress. It'll be interesting to see how much the offense changes -- and there will be changes -- now that Cooter has an entire offseason to implement his system.
@mikerothstein: That conversation will likely pick up this offseason, as Stafford enters the final year of his second NFL deal in 2017. It'll be interesting to see what Detroit general manager Bob Quinn does with Stafford, and a lot of it could depend on what happens during the 2016 season. If the Lions falter and Stafford struggles, perhaps Quinn would want to clean house and therefore an extension might not happen. If Stafford continues his 2015 progression into 2016, then the Lions would probably want to wrap Stafford up as soon as possible because his price tag will only skyrocket. So it'll be one of the side stories of the 2016 season and like Ndamukong Suh and Calvin Johnson the past two offseasons, one of the major storylines of the offseason between the 2016 and 2017.
@mikerothstein Is covering the Lions shortened your life span? Has to be torture.— Andrew Heath (@andrewhth) May 19, 2016
@mikerothstein: I mean, we won't know that for sure until the end of life, right? But I'm hoping not. I've mentioned this before, but I'm not a fan of any NFL team and haven't been since I started covering the league. So I don't approach any of this like a fan. It's profession so I do my job. Is it a stressful gig sometimes? Sure. But it's also a really fun, enjoyable job, and I'm glad to do it. I've also taking up running a lot more to help deal with any stress.
@mikerothstein: At this point, I would anticipate Devin Taylor being the likely starter at defensive end opposite Ansah. The Lions don't have many other options, and Taylor is the most complete player of the possible options, which include Taylor, Wallace Gilberry and the rookie Anthony Zettel. Taylor has the length, experience and playmaking ability to be good enough against the run and the pass to handle the starter's role. While the Lions could sign a veteran to become a rotational player, it would be surprising to see Detroit find a starter that could unseat Taylor this late in free agency. Of course, the Lions brought in George Johnson late a couple of years ago, and he ended up being extremely valuable.