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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.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why I think they should pick Stafford

1. He is not a pac 10 or big 12 QB. This guy is SEC. There is a difference. There really is. Had this guy been on USC and played that pampered USC schedule, he would look flawless. Well he played in the SEC. He's better than people think.

2. They have a great situation for Stafford. He will sit behind Culpepper for at least 1 season and maybe get a little mop up duty on occasion. Great scenario for a young QB.

2. They can get a solid MLB at #20 or #33 or maybe even later.

3. They can concentrate on a first round left tackle, next year.

11:25 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dave, I love your blog and it is the best at Inside information on the team......With Mayhew and Curry both having to agree on the pick, do you really think Schwartz would agree on a junior QB that has a really low success rate in the NFL. He is a #s guy and has seen guys like Vince Young falter. I feel with him being a defensive minded coach he would want Curry or JSmith. Curry because he is the "safe" pick and best defensive player and JSmith because he mentioned winning games in the trenches and running the ball, which you can do with a upgraded line.

11:25 AM 
Blogger spacecataz said...

What makes this especially difficult, responding to the comments above, is that we have NO idea what Mayhew/Lewand/Schwartz actually think about each player. In the end, I agree with Birk- comments such as that made by Curry have no impact on who is going to be picked because contracts won't dominate who is picked. Rather, it is how they feel about each player concerning the quality and fit with the team.

11:43 AM 
Blogger Dave Birkett said...

Spacecataz is right. No one really knows what Mayhew and Schwartz are thinking, but indications are they've done their diligence on and do like Stafford. We'll find out for sure in the coming days.

As for Schwartz's opinion, he's said a million times you have to be long-term at the QB position and, no matter how Daunte looked in minicamp, the Lions are not right now. If they draft Stafford, they will be. And if they bring him along properly, they'll give him the best chance to succeed.

I've said this to a number of people and maybe even written it here, too: When you hear GMs and draft experts talk about building a team, they have their own vision in mind. Mayock's the best in the business if you ask me, and he prefers Sanchez because of his footwork and accuracy. If I was starting a team from scratch, I might as well. But Mayhew, Schwartz and Linehan are all on the same page - which is a first for this franchise and why I think, in time and if they're left to do their thing, they can be successful. They all envision a big, physical, run-first, get-after-you-on-defense football team, but with a strong-armed quarterback who can make every throw no matter the conditions, who can use Calvin Johnson properly, and who leaves no doubt he's in charge. In this draft, that person is Stafford.

There are hundreds of ways to build a team and all of them can be successful if the right players are matched to it. Lions fans just have to hope Stafford's a fit.

11:58 AM 
Anonymous Michael Schottey said...

The whole talk this "drafting season" has been the amount of money that #1 picks get. We've come to terms with the fact you have to pay a #1 pick top dollar even though he hasn't performed...that's one thing.

Another is paying a lesser player more money when the better player is willing to play for less.

Any #1 pick hamstrings a team with so much cap space rolled up into an unproven player. Having two 1st rounders complicates it even more.

Drafting Curry and signing him for MUCH less money (10-15 mil less guaranteed) puts this team in a much better long term situation. He's the best player.


12:14 PM 
Anonymous Michael Schottey said...

PS. Let's also remember that Schwartz also said that you don't need to take QBs in the draft. They're important but that doesn't necessarily make them the 1st pick.

12:17 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Guys if they don't take Stafford this year, they will take McCoy or Tebow next year. Who would you rather have?

They might take Bradford too if they have the #1 overall pick again, which i don't think they will.

Stafford is the better prospect than McCoy or Tebow and by this time next year will have 1 year of NFL knowledge.

I say take Stafford. First SEC QB they'll have ever had.

12:48 PM 
Anonymous Steve said...

When you are in the position that the Lions are in, how can you not take the best player available, when the best player available is probably the biggest need on the team. It seems like a no brainer to me.

12:51 PM 
Anonymous Michael Schottey said...

There is a whole year between this year and next draft.

Jevan Snead and Jimmy Clausen both have similar profiles to Stafford and will be top prospects if they have similar seasons.

McCoy/Tebow/Bradford all have talent and have a senior season to improve their stock. Even in non-traditional offenses QBs CAN succeed. Expect all three teams to go slightly more pro-like. (Especially Florida with the addition of Scot Loeffler)

Add in the guys no one is talking about yet and you could have 6 QBs with "first round" profiles. Next year is a much deeper class AND could be just as top heavy.

1:22 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Even if Curry would sign for less he would still be grossly overpaid for linebacker if he got close Jake Long money. Now if Curry is willing to take contract in line with what Bart Scott got. 6 years $48 million with $20 million guaranteed then your talking a true value contract for a linebacker.

2:09 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I hope they draft Stafford, but this "They can't pick Curry because he's a linebacker" stuff is nonsense.

That's way over analyzing things.

Let's say the year that Baltimore drafted Ray Lewis, they had the #1 pick overall.

Let's say with that #1 pick overall they reached and picked Ray Lewis #1.

Do you think right now, anyone in Baltimore would be complaining that they reached? And that they paid too much for a linebacker?

Me neither.

3:55 PM 

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