1:11pm: Speaking to the media this afternoon, Martha Ford announced that Sheldon White, the Lions’ director of pro personnel, will act as interim general manager. Allison Maki will be the acting COO, and there will be no changes to the coaching staff at this time, per Ford (link via Michael Rothstein of ESPN.com). The team will soon begin a search for candidates to fill the positions permanently.
11:16am: The Lions’ front office received a major shake-up today, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.com, who reports (via Twitter) that the organization has parted ways with general manager Martin Mayhew and president Tom Lewand.
Just 10 days ago, the Lions made significant changes to their coaching staff, firing offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi and a pair of offensive line coaches. Detroit had hoped the changes to the offensive coaching staff would jump-start the team, but reports in the wake of those moves suggested it was possible those wouldn’t be the last ones made by the team this season.
Albert Breer of the NFL Network noted at the time (via Twitter) that there had been “rumblings around the league about larger-scale changes in Detroit,” since Martha Ford is now in charge of the ownership group, and observers weren’t sure what to expect from her. It now appears those rumblings were well-founded, as ownership is making large-scale changes to the organizational structure.
While teams typically wait until the offseason to replace general managers and other decision-makers in the front office, the Lions had been one of the most underachieving teams in the NFL this season, and it appeared to be just a matter of time before the other shoe dropped. Coming off an 11-5 campaign that earned them a playoff berth in 2014, the Lions are off to a league-worst 1-7 start this year, and have been outscored by 96 points in just eight games.
According to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (via Twitter), there’s a “total wipeout” happening in Detroit today, with bosses “going through the building deciding who stays and goes.” So it appears Mayhew and Lewand won’t be the only casualties.
For now, head coach Jim Caldwell still has his job, though he’s hardly a lock to keep it. The Lions may want to identify a new general manager before replacing Caldwell, to give that new GM an opportunity to make the decision on Caldwell’s future, and potentially to hire his own man for the job.
Matt Miller of Bleacher Report tweets that one “hot” name for the Lions’ GM vacancy – at least on an interim basis – is Brian Xanders, who is currently a senior personnel executive for the club. Whoever takes over that role will have several key decisions to make in the coming months, including deciding whether to extend Haloti Ngata, and possibly addressing Matthew Stafford‘s and Calvin Johnson‘s contracts. Stafford has been extremely inconsistent this season and is owed a non-guaranteed $17MM base salary in 2016, while Megatron’s cap number is set to leap to $24MM+.
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