Should the Lions take Curry for less money?
A couple points on the hot topic of the day: Aaron Curry's comments that he's willing to taking less money to be the No. 1 pick.
First, team president Tom Lewand has made it clear that the Lions are free to negotiate whatever deal they want with their top draft choice. The union wouldn't be happy with a below-market contract, of course, but they couldn't do anything about it, either. (Publicly, at least. I'm sure agent Andy Ross would hear plenty of backlash behind closed doors.)
With the No. 1 pick in the draft it's a free-market system," Lewand said earlier this month. "Outside of the restrictions on the rookie pool and the length of contracts and some of those things, there's nothing that dictates the financial terms of the contract. But from our vantage point, we're looking at the best player, who's the best fit for us, and the guy that we think is going to contribute."
Now to be clear, Curry wasn't talking about taking a deal that's worth half the value of what quarterback Matt Stafford would get as the No. 1 pick (I don't think, at least). More likely, he realizes the NFL pay structure (where QBs make more than OL, and OL make more than LBs) and is OK with not bleeding the Lions up top.
For argument's sake, let's say Curry got a deal in line with Jake Long's No. 1 contract from a season ago, five years with about $30 million guaranteed. To sign Stafford, it's going to cost the Lions about $10 million more - as the No. 3 pick last year, Matt Ryan signed a six-year deal with $34.75 million in guarantees.
If you're the Lions and you've already decided that Stafford is a franchise-caliber quarterback you can build around - if they didn't think that, this discussion would be moot - would it be worth it to take a more immediately impactful player at a lesser position to save a ton of money you're not going to be able to spend this year anyway? (Remember, there's no dominant players left in free agency and that $10 million total amounts to a $2-million-a-year prorated cap savings.)
When I first heard of Curry's comments last night, I said yeah, take Curry and pay him less. But the more I think of it in actual terms like those above, the more I don't think it changes what the Lions should do. If they're convinced Stafford is the future, he's the pick.