(The Detroit Lions are) Black and Blue All Over:
As I catch up on a wild morning here in the NFC North, many of you Detroit Lions fans are already wringing your hands at the departure of cornerback Eric Wright. Early Wednesday morning, Wright agreed to a five-year contract with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Other financial terms were not available, but as we've discussed a number of times, the Lions are tight against the salary cap and would have had to make significant moves to create the space to engage in any kind of bidding war. But the question you have to ask yourself is whether Wright would have been worth it.
The Lions' secondary crashed over the final six games of the regular season and in their wild-card playoff loss to the New Orleans Saints. Part of the problem was the knee sprains of cornerback Chris Houston and safety Louis Delmas, but the Lions would have been justified in taking a highly critical eye toward Wright's performance.
Our friends at Pro Football Focus (PFF) ranked every full-time NFL cornerback last season based on video study. Wright finished at No. 105, in large part because a league-high 75 passes were completed against him. His inconsistent tackling allowed receivers he covered to accumulate 319 yards after the catch, the eighth-highest total in the league, according to PFF.
To be clear, Wright proved more competent than many of the stiffs the Lions have rolled through their lineup in recent years. He intercepted four passes and had 10 pass breakups, according to PFF's ratings. But was he worth additional salary-cap strife for a team whose secondary finished the 2011 season in shambles?
The Lions didn't think so, and to me that's a defensible position. At this delicate stage in their development, the Lions can't afford a single contractual mistake. A reasonable person could argue they avoided one in Wright's case.
Let's take a Lions-only stroll through local coverage while we have a moment:
The Lions will entertain San Francisco 49ers receiver/kick returner Ted Ginn Jr. on a visit, according to Anwar S. Richardson of Mlive.com.
Don't forget the Lions also haven't re-signed middle linebacker Stephen Tulloch, notes Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press.
The Lions are going to have to shave more payroll if they want to sign any of their free agents, notes Chris McCosky of the Detroit News.
Lions receiver Nate Burleson is mentoring youngster Titus Young, writes Birkett.