The history of running backs for the Detroit Lions post-Barry Sanders isn't pretty. With so much uncertainty going into the 2012 season, would they bite the bullet and trade pass rusher Cliff Avril for Pro Bowl back Matt Forte?
Calvin Johnson and Matthew Stafford make Avril a difficult contract issue
The common credo among NFL minds is that a team can never have enough pass rushers. It a quarterback-driven time that's never become more true. For a team like Detroit, in a division with Jay Cutler and Aaron Rodgers, they've made sure to keep that philosophy in mind. Of all the teams in the league the Lions are one of the few with a surplus of pass rushing defensive ends. The best of the bunch is 25-year-old Cliff Avril. A 4th-year man out of Purdue, Avril has increased his sack total every year since getting drafted by Detroit. The 2011 season was his best yet, piling up 11 sacks. A year like that generally earns a player a fat new contract extension but that is difficult for the Detroit Lions, which is why they used the franchise tag on him. Avril answered with an off-season holdout and now the two sides reportedly sit separated by $2 million. In common football business terms, it doesn't sound like much but for Detroit it is. Fellow team star Calvin Johnson already got his big pay-day and quarterback Matthew Stafford will get one soon as well. Together with defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh the trio take up most of the team salary cap, making any long-term deal with Avril difficult. Unless the two sides can close the gap, Avril could hold out into the season. If Detroit can't keep him, a trade might become their last resort.
Forte dispute with Chicago Bears stays in NFL headlines
First it was no respect, then it was signing Michael Bush and now the Chicago Bears allegedly won't give Matt Forte his money because of concerns over the wear and tear on his knees. Anyone who knows the life of an NFL running back understands the pounding they take year after year. It's why many players flame out by the age of 30 or even younger. According to the Chicago Tribune, whispers have surfaced that the Bears have those concerns about their Pro Bowl running back. It's why they won't pay him the money he wants no matter how much Forte tries to assure them and fans that he's healthier than ever by dragging 100lbs on a dog sled up a steep hill. The truth is Forte is 26 and in his prime but the knee injury he suffered last season is the major culprit in why Chicago is so reluctant to pay him. If that's true, other teams might think differently. Detroit is one such team. Their problems at running back have plagued them for years. Unless they fix it soon they run the risk of getting star quarterback Matthew Stafford hurt from throwing too many passes. Meanwhile, the Bears have a huge need for pass rushers. While money would obstruct any deal, the fact is both teams could benefit from a trade. Forte would instantly fuel the Detroit offense into Ã©lite status while Chicago could pair Avril with Pro Bowl star Julius Peppers on defense.
Trades don't happen between division rivals much but few fit as well as an exchange for Matt Forte and Cliff Avril would. The Chicago Bears and Detroit Lions have the needs, but the money is another story.