After finishing 2011 10-6 and reaching the playoffs for the first time since 1999, the Detroit Lions had high expectations heading into the 2012 season. A slew of off-field player conduct issues during the 2012 offseason later and the Lions found themselves right back at the bottom of the NFC North.
In a season that was supposed to bring promise to the hungry Lions fans that have been patiently waiting for a consistent playoff contender, instead brought more questions than answers as the Lions finished a pathetic 4-12.
The lone bright spot for the Lions last season was wide receiver "Megatron" Calvin Johnson breaking Jerry Rice's single-season receiving yards record with 1,964 yards. The Lions did move the ball well on offense, ranking third in yards, but they had a hard time stopping opponents from scoring, ranking 27 out of the 32 teams in points allowed.
With so many off-the-field issues and little salary cap space, the Lions will enter the 2013 season with many questions and a fan base that wants answers. Could head coach Jim Schwartz be on the proverbial hot seat if they fail to finish with a winning record?
In Schwartz's first four seasons as the Lions' head coach, he has compiled a 22-42 record and he has been perceived to not have control over the Lions' players. The team did take measures after last season and released troubled receiver Titus Young.
They also cut guard Stephen Peterman and veteran defensive end Kyle Vanden Bosch in order to free up some cap room. The Lions are currently at roughly $119 million, leaving them just over $2 million in cap room to sign a bunch of players.
The Lions have 23 unrestricted free agents, including DE Cliff Avril, S Louis Delmas, CBs Chris Houston and Drayton Florence, K Jason Hanson and RB Joique Bell just to name a few.
Lions general manager Martin Mayhew had this to say about signing their own players: "I'll put it like this, and maybe you guys can identify them, but there are about nine guys that we really are focused on of the 22," Mayhew added, "And there are a bunch of other guys. There are some guys that we're very focused on, and I won't prioritize it. That's where we are."
From The Detroit News (click here).
Is Cliff Avril one of those nine targets? Likely, but how are they going to fit nine quality players into a minuscule cap window? These are just a few of the questions the Lions are faced with right now.
Here are the five most pressing questions for the Lions heading into 2013.