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Tim and Mike: Talking Suh, the draft and the upcoming owners meetings

Posted Mar 19, 2014

Senior writer Tim Twentyman and columnist Mike O'Hara discuss the Ndamukong Suh contract negotiations, Brandon Pettigrew's new deal, and the upcoming owners meetings and draft

Something is always up for discussion in the NFL, no matter the time of year, and this year is no exception.

Ndamukong SuhDT Ndamukong Suh (Photo: AP Images)

Free agency has shifted into low gear, but teams – including the Lions – are still seeking to fill needs at some level. Pro-Day workouts for draft prospects are gaining more attention, especially for quarterbacks. And the annual owners meetings open this weekend in Orlando with some potential rules changes up for discussion.

Lions President Tom Lewand said during an appearance at the MGM Grand casino’s TAP restaurant Monday night that not having a contract extension completed with Ndamukong Suh has not affected the team’s approach to free-agent signings.

Start with Suh. Is not having an extension with Suh a big deal?

Mike: Big deal? It’s no deal, and that’s what makes it a big deal for a lot of people. If Lewand says not having an extension in place before the start of free agency this year did not change the Lions’ plans, I’ll take him at his word.

Unlike 2013 and some other years, it never looked like the Lions’ plan for this year was to reload in free-agency. So far, they’ve had enough cap room to sign free-agent receiver Golden Tate and keep Brandon Pettigrew, Don Muhlbach, Joique Bell and Dominic Raiola and a few others.

However, I’d want to have the Suh deal done if for no other reason than it would mean there’s one less distraction orbiting the team’s headquarters.

Tim: I also think some people are a little misguided on exactly the kind of space a potential Suh deal could create.

When Calvin Johnson signed his extension in 2012, it freed up about $10 million. When Matthew Stafford signed his last offseason, it created around $3 million. That’s a considerable difference.

Lewand thinks the kind of cap relief the Lions will get from Suh will be closer to Stafford’s extension than it will Johnson’s. If that’s the case, he’s right, getting a deal done with Suh had no impact on free agency.

The Lions addressed their biggest need by getting Tate. They’ll look to address their hole at safety with possibly free agent James Ihedigbo or from the draft.

I expect a deal to get done with Suh in due time.

A lot of mixed feelings from fans on the Brandon Pettigrew re-signing, Mike. Why do you think that is?

Mike: Some of it is because of dropped passes and lost fumbles that have haunted him at times. And some of it – and this is just my opinion – is a reflection of the impact fantasy football has on how people who participate in those leagues view a player’s value.

They want yards and points, not blocking. Pettigrew doesn’t fill up the stats sheet the way Rob Gronkowski, Jimmy Graham and some other tight ends do.

Bringing Pettigrew back is a good move. If he hadn’t re-signed, then the Lions would have had to look for a player to fill his role. Why go hunting when you have what you need in the bag?

Are there any reasonable moves left for the Lions? And what impact might Teddy Bridgewater’s lackluster Pro Day workout have on the top half of the first round of the draft?

Tim: I don’t expect anymore big splashes. James Ihedigbo would be the only starting-caliber move remaining.

I’ll be interested to see what shakes out with backup quarterback Shaun Hill. He visited St. Louis on Monday.

The Lions are a better football team with him backing up Stafford. At what price, though? He could certainly get more on the open market, but seems to like his situation in Detroit.

Is it time for the Lions to bring another quarterback into the fold, maybe an athletic youngster with some upside to mold?

As far as Bridgewater goes, teams have enough tape on him, and will work him out on their own, that I don't expect it to have a huge affect. I still think he's one of the top three quarterbacks taken and probably in the top 10.

Mike: Blake Bortles, Johnny Manziel and Bridgewater should be the first three quarterbacks drafted, but the Lions should want them to be taken in the first nine picks. Same with the top three offensive tackles.

The more tackles and quarterbacks who are drafted in the first nine picks, the better for the Lions because they aren’t taking a tackle or quarterback with the 10th pick.

There might be some action and conversation between teams when the league meetings start this weekend in Orlando.

Do you expect anything of note that affects the Lions, other than awarding the compensatory draft picks?

Tim: The compensatory pick is expected to be as high as a fourth round, so that’s significant.

As far as the proposals and rule changes go, there isn’t anything real significant this year. There’s been talk about moving the extra point back to the 25-yard line, making it a 42-yard kick, but I don’t see that passing this year.

There’s also talk about having replay decisions come from a centralized location in New York, not unlike the NHL does in Toronto. That one could pass.

There will be discussions about adding two more playoff teams -- which could affect the Lions -- but I don’t see that passing either. It should be hard to get into the playoffs. The NFL playoffs are just fine the way they are. Don’t mess with a good thing, I say.

Mike: Same here, the extra point in particular. I’ve never heard fans complain about it, and it’s ludicrous to change it because kickers are proficient at making extra points.

If degree of difficulty is the standard for awarding points, then the safety ought to be worth more than two points. There were 20 safeties recorded last year out of more than 30,000 offensive plays.

There can’t be very much wrong with the NFL if one of the points of discussion is the extra point.

Tim: Look at the extra point this way. It gives fans that extra time to go to the bathroom or get a beer. There’s nothing wrong with that.

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