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Lions need to rebuild team

Last year, the Detroit Lions enjoyed an 11-5 season and made the playoffs. Unfortunately for the Motor City, the Lions lost in the Wild Card round to the Dallas Cowboys, keeping the franchise without a single playoff win since 1991. Only the Cincinnati Bengals have a longer active streak.

Detroit entered this season with high hopes, albeit with a different spin on the roster following the free-agent departures of Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley from the defensive line. The Lions were hoping to make up for their absence by the acquisition of Haloti Ngata and the continued excellence of their offense, led by quarterback Matthew Stafford and receivers Calvin Johnson and Golden Tate.

Instead, everything has completely fallen apart. The coaching staff and most of the players are taking a ton of heat, and Detroit is the only winless team in the National Football League with an 0-5 mark.

After a controversial loss in Week 4 against the Seattle Seahawks at CenturyLink Field, the Lions hoped to bounce back against the Arizona Cardinals at Ford Field on Sunday afternoon. Instead, Stafford had one of his worst days as a pro, throwing three interceptions before head coach Jim Caldwell benched him in favor of Dan Orlovsky.

While Stafford has always been prolific, he is also prone to mistakes. In his seven-year career after being the first-overall pick in 2009 out of the University of Georgia, Stafford has thrown for 22,919 yards and 137 touchdowns. However, the 27-year-old has also tossed 93 interceptions, including at least 15 picks in four seasons. Stafford has already thrown eight this year, the second-most in the NFL.

All of this feeds into a larger problem. Detroit has obvious holes on the offensive line and the secondary. There are also less-pressing but existing needs on the defensive line and perhaps, in the offensive backfield depending on how Ameer Abdullah shakes out. The coaching staff is also less than inspiring, but that is another topic for another column.

Heading into 2016, the salary cap is projected to be around $150 million. The Lions have approximately $31.6 million in cap space going into that offseason, according to Over The Cap. In theory, this sounds like great news. Yet, Detroit could be looking at some major problems.

The Lions only have 36 players under contract for 2016. Considering the top 51 count against the salary cap, much of that space vanishes once you account for those slots. Detroit also needs to fill out its draft class, which on average costs about $5 million against the cap. General manager Martin Mayhew also faces a tough choice on Johnson. Johnson is set to be a whopping $24 million cap hit. If Mayhew cuts him, the Lions would save $11 million on the cap.

It might be time for the Lions to blow this team up. Johnson is getting older and increasingly expensive, while Stafford is failing to improve. Maybe the best move is to cut Johnson, trade Tate, and use the assets acquired to build a killer ground game with an elite defense. Let Stafford become a stronger-armed Alex Smith, and roll the dice on a team built to win 20-17 instead of 31-28.

Detroit needs to do something, because in the Motor City vernacular, this is a broken down vehicle without a spare.

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