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Candidates will listen when the Lions call

The Lions are at a crossroad. This offseason may be the most important Detroit has experienced in the Super Bowl era and the most crucial decisions must be made within a few days. The opportunities ahead breed excitement among fans and for the same reasons the Lions will have little trouble bringing in the personnel they seek. Despite a history of hopelessness, Detroit would hold the most attractive job openings in the NFL if they choose to make them available.

They made quick work of hiring a new GM. Finding a true talent evaluator in Bob Quinn, the Lions showed they may truly be headed in a new direction. Detroit has already hired away the New England Patriots’ top personnel executive and due to the reasons below, they’ll find easy pickings for any other positions that opens, especially at head coach if Jim Caldwell is indeed let go.

The Lions Have Their Quarterback

The Detroit Lions offense is going ... x
The Detroit Lions offense is going to be pretty good

Quarterbacks are the hardest players to get right, either through the draft or free agency, and their performance is often closely tied to the fates of their coaches and front office executives. General managers and coaches tasked with bringing in a new quarterback rarely find enough success to keep their jobs long-term.

That is a headache the new staff will not have to deal with as they are inheriting a real franchise quarterback in Matthew Stafford. Stafford has proved he can play with the best of them and his incredible streak during the second half of the season showed just how high his ceiling can be. The new front office will not be forced to find and develop a quarterback anytime soon.

Talented Framework In Place

Not just at quarterback, Detroit has playmakers all over the field. While lacking in depth, the defense is already capable and may be a few pieces away from blossoming into a perennial top ten unit. Ziggy Ansah, Darius Slay, DeAndre Levy, and Glover Quin make up a great young foundation to build that defense on.

On offense, Calvin Johnson remains one of the best receivers in the NFL. If he does indeed pursue retirement, he will leave behind large cap savings to work with. Golden Tate is a great receiver of his own and Theo Riddick looks like the reincarnate of a young Darren Sproles. Ameer Abdullah clearly has talent and even Eric Ebron has shown glimpses of what he may become.

This is a team that, although lacking in areas, is certainly not bereft of talent.

Large Flexibility In Team Building

Detroit may have deficiencies in areas but they also have plenty to work with when addressing them. With the cap limit expected to increase dramatically, the Lions should have between 20-30 million dollars to use. Though it would be a blow, if Calvin Johnson hangs up his cleats that number will jump another 11 million dollars.

With the addition of compensatory picks from free agency losses like Ndamukong Suh and the stockpiled picks they already have, the Lions will have plenty of options in the draft as well. Between a bounty of money to spend and a large amount of draft picks at their disposal, the new staff will have numerous ways to build the team as they see fit while filling positions of need.

Not A Rebuild, Immediate Success Possible

The best way to keep your job in the NFL is to win. This isn’t a team in need of a teardown and long-term rebuild. With the pieces in place, a change in direction at the top, and a new coaching staff, the Lions will be ready to win and win now.

Detroit has plenty of talent in place and faces a much less brutal 2016 schedule than the gauntlet they faced this season. The right moves could propel the Lions to the playoffs and beyond next year which is sure to provide job security for coaches and the general manager.

 New(ish) Ownership

This is not the same old Lions ownership. While still under possession of the Ford family, current owner Martha Ford conducts her business much different than her late husband, William Clay Ford Sr. She is not content to stand idle while losses pile up and she is clearly willing to make the necessary changes as evidenced by her somewhat surprising in-season firings.

This marks a stark contrast to how the organization has been run in the past. For sixty years and counting, that approach has not worked for this team. Her fire gives the Lions new life and should steer them in a much better direction than her husband did. The chance to be a part of the turning point for a desperate franchise will not be lost on those interested.

May Not Be Far From Contender Status

It has been a rocky season for Detroit but the last eight games demonstrated the promise that lies within. There are glaring holes but none too deep to fill this offseason. The most prominent on-field issue is addressing the offensive line.

Finding a franchise caliber left tackle will alleviate many issues on its own. By allowing Riley Reiff to move to right tackle, it would instantly improve both sides of the line. If the team can upgrade at center as well, the Lions’ biggest problem could become a strength, allowing the offense to become dominant.

If Detroit can garner a couple starters and some depth on defense, in addition to fixing the O-line woes, their ceiling will be immense. It may seem like a lot to address in one offseason but the Lions possess the draft picks and cap flexibility to handle it. It’s rare for a franchise with so much potential to go through extensive staff and front office changes and that is precisely why the Lions should have no problem luring top candidates to Detroit.

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