Quarterback far from settled in Detroit

February, 17, 2009
2/17/09
4:29
PM ET
Posted by ESPN.com's Kevin Seifert

Here is what we can tell you in the wake of Tuesday's revelation that Detroit quarterback Daunte Culpepper has renegotiated his contract: Culpepper is in the mix to start for the Lions in 2009.

  Culpepper

Actually, that's the term Lions president Tom Lewand used Tuesday during a meeting with Detroit-area reporters. Culpepper has not been given the team's starting job, and in fact Lewand said the team is also negotiating to bring back Dan Orlovsky -- a pending free agent who started seven games in 2008.

During the interview session, Lions coach Jim Schwartz didn't sound anywhere close to deciding on a starter:

"We want to keep all options open and a lot of that depends on free agency, a lot of it depends on the draft and those kinds of things. I think you don't want to shut any door before it's time, so to speak."

It's possible that Culpepper agreed to change the timing of a roster bonus he was originally due to collect Feb. 27. If that's the case, the Lions will have bought more time to decide the direction of the position before giving him a multimillion dollar payout. (The original bonus was worth $2.5 million.)

This gives Culpepper a chance to earn a job -- and likely a future financial payout from the Lions' new regime. It doesn't mean the Lions wouldn't also draft a quarterback in April, and clearly it hasn't stopped them from pursuing at least one other veteran (Orlovsky). About the only conclusion you can reach is that Jon Kitna, himself due a relatively modest bonus later this month, almost certainly will be released or traded in the next two weeks.

Only the very best players from an 0-16 team should be guaranteed a starting job the following season. None of the Lions' 2008 quarterbacks fall into that category, so the team is doing what it should: maximizing its options, minimizing risk and moving forward.

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