Detroit Lions: Vaughn Martin

After briefly sitting at 89 players over the weekend, the Detroit Lions are back at their full roster of 90 guys now after making three moves Monday morning.

The Lions first released defensive tackle Vaughn Martin -- the second defensive lineman to be cut by Detroit in the past week. Martin was given a $65,000 signing bonus by the team when they signed him to a one-year deal.

Martin had played in 51 NFL games, making 79 tackles and three sacks after being drafted by San Diego in the fourth round in 2009.

Detroit also decided to sign receiver Cody Wilson, who was on the team's practice squad last season, and defensive lineman Kalonji Kashama, an undrafted rookie free agent out of Eastern Michigan.

Kashama was at the Lions' rookie minicamp last month. He had 104 career tackles and 12 sacks at Eastern Michigan. He's also Canadian -- from Brampton, Ontario -- so the Lions are losing a Canadian defensive lineman and adding another one in the same flurry of roster moves.
With everything the Detroit Lions are going to do over the next few months, all of it is with a very simple goal in mind.

Put together the best possible roster to make a run at the playoffs in 2014, Jim Caldwell’s first season as Detroit’s head coach.

A week into free agency, here’s a breakdown of the Lions' defense and if they are better off than they were at the end of last season. The only players mentioned are ones who were on Detroit’s 53-man roster last season.

Here’s a look at the offense from earlier Monday.

DEFENSIVE END:

Ansah
Who is back: Ziggy Ansah; Jason Jones; Devin Taylor

Who is gone: Willie Young (Chicago); Israel Idonije

Who has come in: Darryl Tapp

Who is in limbo: No one.

Are the Lions better or worse: Worse. There’s a lot of forward-thinking hope by Detroit right now with its defensive end situation. By not re-signing Young -- which, in my opinion, was a mistake -- the Lions have left themselves reliant on either a recovering Jones or a still unproven Taylor to line up opposite Ansah. Tapp was signed last week, but likely is nothing more than a rotational player as his production has dropped yearly since a strong 2008. If Jones re-emerges or Taylor develops, Detroit could be fine here, but that’s a lot of questions without definitive answers right now.

DEFENSIVE TACKLE:

Suh
Who is back: Ndamukong Suh; Nick Fairley; C.J. Mosley.

Who is gone: Andre Fluellen, most likely.

Who has come in: Corvey Irvin; Vaughn Martin

Who is in limbo: Technically Fluellen, but likely no one.

Are the Lions better or worse: The same. The main three-man rotation at defensive tackle will remain the same and could possibly improve if Fairley finally gets in shape. Either Irvin, Martin or one of the two practice squad players from last season -- Jimmy Saddler-McQueen or Xavier Proctor -- could end up as the fourth tackle. Or the Lions could slide Jones inside. But not much has changed here. The biggest issue with this group, besides Fairley’s weight and production, is Suh’s monster contract.

LINEBACKER:

Who is back: Stephen Tulloch; DeAndre Levy; Ashlee Palmer; Tahir Whitehead; Travis Lewis; Julian Stanford.

Who is gone: Rocky McIntosh

Who has come in: No one.

Who is in limbo: No one.

Barr
Are the Lions better or worse: The same. This unit has made no changes yet, although it would seem as if that could end up happening through the draft if the Lions were to look at Anthony Barr in the first round. If Teryl Austin ends up playing as much nickel as Gunther Cunningham did, this might not be an issue, but if the Lions want to run more of a true 4-3, it will need to consider finding another linebacker to challenge Palmer. Whitehead could end up with a bigger role, but he is also very valuable on special teams.

CORNERBACK:

Who is back: Chris Houston; Darius Slay; Bill Bentley; Jonte Green; Chris Greenwood.

Mathis
Who is gone: No one, yet.

Who has come in: No one, yet.

Who is in limbo: Rashean Mathis

Are the Lions better or worse: For now, worse. Mathis was signed last season as depth and turned into Detroit’s top cornerback by the middle of the season. Houston was inconsistent and Slay would need to take a major jump from his rookie season to be an effective, consistent cornerback. The talent is there with a lot of the corners, but the production hasn't been. Much like defensive end, there are a lot of questions about this position group at this time, too much to say this group will be better than a season ago.

SAFETY:

Who is back: Glover Quin; Don Carey; Dejon Gomes; Akwasi Owusu-Ansah

Who is gone: Louis Delmas (Miami); John Wendling

Who has come in: Isa Abdul-Quddus

Ihedigbo
Who is in limbo: James Ihedigbo (free agent)

Are the Lions better or worse: Worse, for now, but could end up better off. Losing Delmas is tough both from a continuity and leadership standpoint. But he was never a consistent player, too often going for the big hit instead of the safe, smart play. Plus, his knees were always going to be a question. If the Lions sign Ihedigbo, they could end up in a better position because he has familiarity with Austin and could balance Quin well. This is going to be a need position and clearly a spot the Lions are looking at in the draft, as Ha Ha Clinton-Dix was in Allen Park, Mich. on Monday visiting the Lions. So this group should end up better off, but just are not there yet.

SPECIALISTS:

Who is back: Sam Martin (punter); Don Muhlbach (long-snapper)

Who is gone: David Akers (kicker)

Who has come in: John Potter (kicker); Giorgio Tavecchio (kicker)

Who is in limbo: No one.

Are the Lions better or worse: Better. Muhlbach is one of the best in the game at long snapping. Martin should improve from his rookie season, when he was a good punter, to his second season. Akers had issues for most of the season and had both field goals and extra points blocked. While Potter and Tavecchio have not had a ton of experience in the NFL, they will both get a shot at the job.
ALLEN PARK, Mich. – The options are starting to dwindle.

Detroit took care of its wide receiver issue – at least in part – by signing Golden Tate. It handled a defensive line hole – kind of – by signing two players, but also had a big hole open when Willie Young went to Chicago.

And the Lions made progress on their gap at safety on Thursday, although no deal was completed. Meanwhile, the Tate deal also showed the Lions need to find some more room under the cap, so contract restructures and other moves might be coming as well.

Oh, and Detroit still could end up signing some players, too. This is Free Agency – Day 4.

QUARTERBACK:
What’s changed: Not much yet. A source said Shaun Hill is still on the table to Detroit, but that both sides were also looking at other options before talking again soon.

Who is out there: Shaun Hill; Luke McCown.

Chances something happens Friday: Not likely, but there could be a move if both Hill and the Lions agree that it is the best fit still at this point.

RUNNING BACK:
What’s changed: Henry Hynoski is off the board, re-signing with the Giants, so the Lions' search for a fullback continues. It might end shortly if the team feels comfortable enough with Montell Owens. He is due $100,000 on the fifth day of the league year if he is still on the roster.
Who is out there: Vonta Leach, Jed Collins.

Chances something happens Friday: If Detroit thinks there are better options they can secure, they could let go of Owens, but if not, they’ll keep him on the roster and could end the search for a true fullback.

WIDE RECEIVER
What’s changed: Not much from the Golden Tate signing. His cap number in 2014 will be $3.1 million and the Lions currently have over $20 million in cap room invested in the position. This seems like a wait-a-while-and-see position now.

Who is out there: Lance Moore; Jason Avant.

Chances something happens Friday: Don’t see anything happening here Friday.

TIGHT END:
What’s changed: Brandon Pettigrew signed a four-year deal Friday morning worth $16 million, according to the Detroit Free Press. This should solve their need at tight end.

Who is out there: Brandon Pettigrew

Chances something happens Friday: Definite. He is expected to be in Detroit on Friday.

OFFENSIVE LINE:
What’s changed: Phil Costa is off the board, headed to Indianapolis.

Who is out there: None.

Chances something happens Friday: Highly, highly unlikely. At least for anyone of note.

DEFENSIVE LINE:
What’s changed: The Lions signed two depth defensive linemen Thursday, Darryl Tapp and Vaughn Martin. Also, Willie Young is headed to Detroit’s rival, Chicago, so he is no longer a candidate to return to the Lions. That said, Young being off the board means there is a need with Detroit.

Who is out there: No one of note right now. Could Jared Allen or Julius Peppers end up being a possibility? If they are willing to come cheap, maybe.

Chances something happens Friday: If it is a veteran Detroit knows, perhaps. But not likely at all considering both Peppers and Allen were out there when the team signed Tapp and Martin.

LINEBACKER:
What’s changed: LaMarr Woodley is headed to Oakland, so that homecoming is not going to happen.

Who is out there: Right now, no one.

Chances something happens Friday: Still not a massive need at the outset.

CORNERBACK:
What’s changed: Not much from a day ago. The same guys are still out there and none of them have even really seemed to move the marker with other teams.

Who is out there: This is what I wrote Thursday and it still applies: Rashean Mathis is still out there. With Denver signing Aqib Talib, it would seem like Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie wouldn’t be returning to the Broncos. He played for Lions defensive coordinator Teryl Austin in Arizona. Charles Tillman is out there, too. After the Tate signing, though, Rodgers-Cromartie and Tillman might be out of Detroit’s price range.

Chances something happens Friday: Not likely.

SAFETY:
What’s changed: James Ihedigbo seemed close to signing a deal Thursday, but left the Lions facility without a definitive job in hand. He told reporters that he hopes to sign with the Lions and that an issue with his representation is part of the holdup.

Who is out there: Chris Clemons is still out there, but the Lions seem focused on Ihedigbo.

Chances something happens Friday: Highly possible if he can get things sorted in a timely manner.
ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- The Detroit Lions lost one defensive end to free agency Thursday when one of last season’s starters, Willie Young, signed with Chicago.

A few hours later, the Lions filled the roster hole left by Young with Darryl Tapp, who is joining the team from Washington. He would be Detroit’s fourth signing of the free-agent period and the second defensive lineman to join the club Thursday, along with Vaughn Martin.

Tapp played 11 games with Washington last season, making nine tackles and recording one sack. Prior to last season, he spent four years in Philadelphia and his first four seasons in the league with Seattle. He was a second-round draft pick of the Seahawks in 2006 out of Virginia Tech.

Tapp had a negative overall grade by Pro Football Focus last season and he played in only 81 defensive snaps. His snap counts have declined each year since 2008, when he played 702 defensive plays and had a career-high 54 tackles.

Tapp hasn’t started a game since 2011 with Philadelphia and hasn’t been a full-time starter since the 2008 season with Seattle.

With Detroit, the 29-year-old, who will turn 30 in September, will likely be a depth defensive end. This could signal that the Lions feel comfortable with either the recovery of Jason Jones from his season-ending patellar tendon injury or the progression of Devin Taylor from his rookie season until now. Tapp will likely be the fourth defensive end in the rotation.

He made $865,000 last season with Washington and had a cap number of $580,000. His cap number has only been over $1 million twice in his career – in 2010 and 2011 with Philadelphia.

Lions sign DL Vaughn Martin

March, 13, 2014
Mar 13
10:55
AM ET
ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- The Detroit Lions added some depth to their defensive line Thursday, as defensive end Vaughn Martin signed with the club, according to his agent, Chad Speck.

Martin, who was born in Jamaica and raised in Canada, played in three games for Miami last season, making one tackle. He was drafted in the fourth round by San Diego in 2009 and played four seasons with the Chargers, making 78 tackles in 48 games. He also had three sacks.

He is the third signing of the free-agency period for Detroit, joining wide receivers Golden Tate and Kevin Ogletree.

In other news Thursday morning, the Lions have a third player in for a visit -- defensive end/linebacker Darryl Tapp -- along with safety James Ihedigbo and fullback Henry Hynoski. Tapp played in 11 games for Washington last season, making nine tackles and one sack.

He was drafted in the second round by Seattle in 2006 and spent four seasons there before going to Philadelphia for three years.

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