Patience might turn out to be a virtue for the Lions during this free-agency period.

Which would be nice since as it stood Monday, about 24 hours before the official start of free agency, the Lions had little else going for them but patience.

It didn't appear the team was any closer to an agreement with quarterback Matthew Stafford on a contract extension that would significantly lower his salary cap number, which stands at $20.8 million.

Without that, the Lions were between $5 million and $6 million under the cap, and that's without accounting for the $1.3 million tender they gave to restricted free agent offensive tackle Jason Fox on Monday or the expected tenders on Willie Young.

The Lions, though, could fairly easily create additional cap space by restructuring some contracts (Stafford, Ndamukong Suh has an $18.1 million hit, Jeff Backus $3.5 million, Stephen Tulloch $4.8 million) or releasing some others (Ron Bartell $1 million, Mike Thomas $1.5 million).

Still, the Lions probably won't be looking to get in on any early-bird specials, which might not be a bad thing. If this is truly a buyer's market, as some agents and team administrators believe, then players' asking prices potentially could go down the longer they wait.

The Lions likely will leave it to the teams with the most money — Cleveland, Cincinnati, Indianapolis, Philadelphia, Tampa Bay and Miami — to make the early splash when shopping opens at 4 p.m. Tuesday.

From The Detroit News: