Monday, March 17, 2014
Setting up Week 2 of Lions free agency
By Michael Rothstein
The first week is over and the Detroit Lions, though not as active as some other teams in free agency, did make enough moves to improve the roster.
The big signing was receiver Golden Tate, who will provide a strong complement to Calvin Johnson and give Matthew Stafford a fast, athletic target with two of the best hands in the NFL.
The Lions also brought back tight end Brandon Pettigrew -- a move that makes sense in the short term and allows the team to have a veteran among a group of inexperienced players.
The team also brought in three depth players -- receiver Kevin Ogletree and defensive linemen Darryl Tapp and Vaughn Martin -- and began exploring options at safety to replace Louis Delmas.
Now entering the second week of free agency, most of the top targets are off the board. The Lions have between $2 million and $3 million to work with as of Monday morning. Of course, that could change if Detroit restructures some contracts.
Here’s a quick look at what the Lions could be looking at in the second week of the new league year.
Safety: The Lions had James Ihedigbo in for a visit and there appears to be mutual interest in getting a deal done. The main issues, for now, appear to be the upcoming birth of Ihedigbo's child and who is representing the free-agent safety, according to the Detroit News and Detroit Free Press. Once that gets settled, this is probably the way the Lions go at the position.
If things fall through, there are a lot of options still out there. Chris Clemons has yet to find a team or even take a reported visit. Steve Gregory, Mike Adams and Reed Doughty would be on the next tier if Ihedigbo doesn't work out and Clemons comes off the market.
Backup quarterback: Movement at this position could come soon. Shaun Hill, Detroit's backup the past four seasons, is expected to be in St. Louis for a visit on Monday and what happens there could dictate what the Lions do next. As of Thursday, Hill was still an option for the Lions.
If Hill goes to the Rams -- or elsewhere -- Luke McCown would seem like the logical choice. Jason Campbell, Brandon Weeden, Rex Grossman, Dan Orlovsky, Brady Quinn and former Lion-beater Matt Flynn are among the names also still on the market.
Depth elsewhere: This might also be the time where the Lions can wrap up some players on veteran minimum deals if they feel the need to add a veteran presence at certain positions. Rashean Mathis is still out there at cornerback, as are Champ Bailey, Drayton Florence and Josh Wilson.
The Lions at least investigated a backup center with Phil Costa, who signed with Indianapolis. So this could be an area they look at a younger veteran if they feel there is someone who is the right fit.
Jared Allen is still out there as an impact defensive player -- but he is likely going to cost too much for the Lions to realistically consider at this point. The team could also look to add a veteran wide receiver on the cheap, but again, it could come down to fit.
The likelihood is that Detroit is done signing impact free agents other than at safety.