The Detroit Lions are awful. Don't tell yourself anything different. Between being the only modern team to go 0-16, to drafting 37 wide receivers in one year's draft, to refusing to address their multi-decade long needs at offensive line and defensive backfield, the Lions simple are not good.
Because of being so awful, they have had plenty of opportunity TO be good, however, through numerous high draft picks. Think of them as the Minnesota Timberwolves of the NFL! But in the NFL, during the time the Lions have sucked the most, the contracts due to those high draft picks have been god damn Monopoly money. Ridiculous sums. Guaranteed amounts that would make you dizzy if you sniffed a vault filled with them. And they just won't leave the Lions alone any more.
You could, in fact, say that they continue to HAUNT THEM, OOOOOOOO!!!!!
So where – and how – are these contracts haunting the Lions, and why are they so frightening? ESPN North blog broke it down, but here are the highlights:
The Ghost of Receivers Past, you could say Johnson's contract is. After swinging and missing with Mike Williams, Calvin Johnson came along in his freakishly ghoulish form and the Lions had to draft him, and pay him, to the tune of six years, $64 Million, with $27.2 guaranteed. For a receiver! Before he ever played an NFL game! Frightening. And then he went on to be a Madden cover boy with a curse, play for a team that went 0-16, and scare the hell out of Vikings cornerbacks consistently. Yeah, I think this is a pretty good ghost story.
How about the fact that he looks like the Marshmallow Man from Ghost Busters? Is that scary enough to convince you that his rookie contract is a nightmare? Or that a couple of years after dropping $64 Million on a receiver, the Lions then had to drop another $72 Million on a quarterback, of which $41.7 Million was guaranteed! Good lord! And you want to retain these guys at a later date? That's pretty nerve wracking as is, but also spooky is the fact that Stafford is 1-23 against teams with a winning record in his career, pretty much a young turnover Brett Favre machine, and is kind of doughy and chubby (which COULD be seem as a cute character trait, I guess?). Yeah, that'll keep you up at night.
But wait, there's more! We haven't even talked about the defensive side of the ball, which of course makes sense because the Lions hardly play any. But when they DID finally give it some attention, they ended up with Ndamukong Suh, who was paid five years and $60 Million, with $40 Million guaranteed. Now, Suh is scary as hell just by himself, but then you give him $60 Million dollars to buy like a suit of titanium or something, and you want to try and piss him off? Welp, say good bye to your family, because you gonna be dead.
All in all, that's $108.9 Million dollars given to players without playing a game, or $146.138 Million dollars after they've played some games and the Lions decided, crap, we need these players to remain mediocre. All of which leaves the team and their fans fidgeting in their sleep, jumping at shadows, and weeping in terror at how so much money could produce so little results.
Of course, the fact that Christian Ponder makes ANY amount of money is a matter Vikings fans have to deal with, so I'll call it par for the course.