Over the Cap estimates that the Lions have nearly $127 million committed to a salary cap that is expected to top $140 million when it is announced. Though the increase is significant, it still doesn’t leave the Lions much immediate wiggle room. Thankfully, the team is well aware of Suh’s situation and importance. General manager Martin Mayhew has vowed to make Suh return to Detroit, and Johnson has stepped up and said he will do whatever it takes to help the Lions retain the defensive tackle.
If Johnson is willing to restructure his contract, it will go a long way towards keeping pivotal non-Suh defensive players in place. Inside linebacker DeAndre Levy may be coming off the best season no one talked about in 2014, with 151 tackles, 2.5 sacks and an interception among four passes defensed. He worked in harmony with a Suh-led front and a solid defensive backfield that featured smart free agent signings and a Lions drafted-and-developed second-year standout in cornerback Darius Slay.
The Lions were fortunate to retain defensive coordinator and alchemist Teryl Austin. Give him the same pieces for another offseason, and we could see a great defense become stellar, bringing the offense up with it.
Warren declined to comment on the Peterson situation. He said his statement on the subject when he was named COO on Feb. 12 stands. Then he said:
“I think our organization and individuals in our organization … all have made it very clear that they all would welcome Adrian back once he gets all of the open items resolved with the league, and I feel exactly the same way. My feeling about Adrian is I have great respect for him as a football player and as a person. He’s part of our Vikings family. I would welcome him back with open arms.”
Like Peterson, Warren has exhibited a bounce-back, warrior work ethic that makes both men among the most important figures in Vikings and league history.