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Survey: Which Lions player should be next in line for a contract extension?

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By: Erik Schlitt


Our latest SB Nation Reacts Survey asks the question: Which Lions player should be next in line for a contract extension?

Welcome to SB Nation Reacts, a survey of fans across the NFL. Throughout the year we ask questions of the most plugged-in Detroit Lions fans and fans across the country. Sign up here to participate in the weekly emailed surveys.

The Detroit Lions are signing quarterback Jared Goff to a massive contract extension—their third big extension of the offseason—making it a great time to check back in with fans with another installment of our SB Nation Reacts survey brought to you by the folks at DraftKings Sportsbook, the official sportsbook partner of SB Nation.

In this survey, we are asking Lions fans the following question:

Which Lions player should be next in line for a contract extension?

Let’s set the table for this survey.

We started narrowing the list of candidates by looking only at players in a contract year. Next, we excluded all individuals who signed or re-signed a contract with the Lions this offseason (i.e. Kevin Zeitler, Donovan Peoples-Jones). We also did not include players on rookie deals with more than one year left on their contract (i.e. Aidan Hutchinson, Brian Branch) because they are not yet eligible for an extension. Finally, we targeted players who are projected to be in starting roles, leaving us with five options (listed in alphabetical order):

  • Derrick Barnes
  • Carlton Davis
  • Taylor Decker
  • Ifeatu Melifonwu
  • Alim McNeill

Derrick Barnes took hold of the Lions’ starting MIKE linebacker role last season and never let it go, despite pressure from first-round pick Jack Campbell. He has shown terrific range and production over his career, including making the game-sealing interception in the Lions’ Divisional Round playoff win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Davis was acquired this offseason via trade and the Lions inherited his existing contract. They quickly restructured his deal to gain salary cap relief in what looked like a possible preemptive move toward an extension. While Davis is an expected starter, will the Lions selecting two cornerbacks in the first two rounds of the NFL Draft change their plans?

Decker has been a stalwart as the Lions left tackle for the previous eight seasons and carries a $19 million cap hit in 2024. The Lions drafted Giovanni Manu in this previous draft, but his road to a starting role could take some time. Therefore, if the Lions want to keep stability on their offensive line—while also potentially freeing up more cap space in 2024—an extension with Decker would be a proactive move.

Melifonwu’s career got off to a rocky start as he switched from corner to safety and dealt with several injuries. But the lightbulb turned on this past season, and once healthy, he was arguably the Lions’ best player in their secondary. His impact sample size is limited, and there is an injury history to consider, but his upside could be tremendous.

McNeill is a rising star and is coming off a season where he finished with a top-10 grade amongst defensive tackles from PFF. McNeill is certainly going to be the first player that comes to mind when discussing Lions players getting contract extensions, but it’s worth pointing out that the top 20 defensive tackles averaged over $15 million per season, and the top 13 averaged at least $21 million. So while retaining McNeill makes a ton of sense, how comfortable are you with his expected price tag?

Alright, it’s time to vote!

As always, once you vote in the survey, make sure to also leave your opinion in the comments and look for the results later this week.

Originally posted on Pride Of Detroit