Levy vs. Durant: Who Deserves to Return More?

December 31st, 2012

Justin Durant and DeAndre Levy team up to take down Adrian Peterson
Hannah Foslein/Getty Images

Justin Wenzel, DLD Contributor

Levy. Durant. No, Levy. I mean Durant. Gah! I’ve fretted over who to keep in my Madden game many many times. And then I turned off the salary cap and I had every good player in the NFL.
But now, the Lions have to face the real decision of who to keep: Justin Durant or DeAndre Levy. The Lions don’t have the cap room to bring back both, so one is going to get a deal and the other is going to walk out of Detroit.

Some fans suggest that we should keep Levy. He’s a veteran Lion. We drafted him. Durant has only been on the team for two years. And who doesn’t love a guy that hits Brandon Marshall on a screen and sends him limping off?
If you ask fans on Twitter, they’d probably suggest the music-loving Durant. He tweets nearly all day, every day. He answers fans questions and jokes with them. He debates music with fans and seems to enjoy being in Detroit.
What fans have to say is important, but what really matters is the on the field production. The Lions don’t pay guys for Twitter followers or years on the team.

In 16 games, Durant far out tackled Levy. Durant had 82 solo tackles and 21 assisted tackles for a total of 103 tackles, putting him second on the team behind only Tulloch. Levy finished the year with 59 solo tackles and 25 assisted tackles, giving him 81, 22 less than Durant.
The only statistics Levy ranks higher in is interceptions. Durant has 0 interceptions this season while Levy had only one, which came against the Arizona Cardinals in a game the Lions got blown out.
The eye test also says Durant should return. Levy has his streaks where he looks like Detroit’s best linebacker, but then he will disappear. Durant may never become a house hold name, but he is an asset in the run stopping department and isn’t terrible when he’s forced to cover. Durant has by far been the more consistent linebacker between he and Levy.
Levy’s season is nothing to scoff at. He missed two games and still complied close to career highs in many categories, but Durant has just been more consistent and is more vital to the Lions wins. In the Lions four wins this year, Durant had 34 tackles while Levy had 7.

While Durant’s contract probably won’t be as big as Tulloch’s was last season (5 year, $25.5 million), I would expect him to sign a contract around 4 year, $15 million. Levy would seek a similar deal, somewhere in the neighborhood of 4 year, $12 million.
Levy would come at a cheaper price, but the Lions can’t afford to let the productive Durant walk out of Allen Park without a deal. Hopefully, the front office can work some magic and both players will return in Honolulu blue and silver, but Levy might end up a casualty this offseason.

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