Lions expect to be active in free agency this time around

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The Detroit Lions were largely spectators when free agency kicked off a year ago, hamstrung by a tight cap situation that prevented them from bringing in some needed upgrades.

That will not be the case this year when free agency opens March 12. The Lions plan to be active and they’ve already shed some contracts to ensure they have cap room to operate. More cuts could be on the way. Significant room could be created too if the team can restructure (extend) the contract of quarterback Matthew Stafford.

We were non-players in free agency last year,” general manager Martin Mayhew said, according to the team’s Web site. “I do think that we plan to make some moves.

“We need to make some changes. Obviously, things aren't going in the right direction. I don't think they went in the right direction last year. We've got to make some changes and have to improve out roster, and we'll definitely make some moves in that direction.”

Stafford is the key. Right now, his contract counts $20 million toward the salary cap. An extension could lower that figure significantly and create space to operate.

“My thought on that is that we're going to try and extend him,” Mayhew said. “At this point there hasn't been a whole lot of dialog about it but I think that's coming.”

Follow me on Twitter: @BradBiggs

Brad Biggs covers the Bears for the Chicago Tribune

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