NFC North: Ken Lucas
The Rod Hood sweepstakes, won Tuesday by Cleveland, means that at least two NFC North teams will continue to seek depth at cornerback. Hood visited both Chicago and Detroit in recent weeks, revealing some level of concern in both markets.
The Bears are practicing without two incumbents, Charles Tillman and Trumaine McBride, who continue to recover from offseason surgery. Cornerback Corey Graham has been moved to safety, leaving Zac Bowman and rookie D.J. Moore as the team's top backups. Veteran Ken Lucas visited earlier this offseason before signing with Seattle, and it's clear the Bears would like to add some extra bodies at the position.
The Lions, meanwhile, have been collecting bodies at cornerback since the moment the NFL rang the free agency bell. They acquired Anthony Henry from Dallas and signed Phillip Buchanon and Eric King; Hood and Chris Carr are among the veterans who visited but signed elsewhere. Incumbent starter Travis Fisher, meanwhile, was released.
You would assume that Buchanon and Henry will have a good chance to enter training camp with the first team, but the Lions aren't in a position to turn down interest at the position.
Will of Chicago, Pat of Green Bay and others have asked if and when an NFC North team would express interest in free agent receiver Torry Holt, who was released by St. Louis three weeks ago.
|Cary Edmondson/US Presswire|
|Torry Holt doesn't appear to be a target of NFC North teams.|
So far, the answer is a flat no. Holt visited Jacksonville earlier this month and is scheduled to visit Tennessee on Thursday, according to this report in The Tennessean. If Holt is on the radar of receiver-needy Minnesota or Chicago, I'm not aware of it.
Minnesota seemed interested in receivers during its pursuit of T.J. Houshmandzadeh earlier this spring, but Houshmandzadeh might have represented a highly focused target. Under vice president Rick Spielman, the Vikings have rarely pursued veterans older than 30 years old. (Houshmandzadeh will be 32 in September, while Holt turns 33 in June.)
Asked why he stepped out of his normal parameters to pursue Houshmandzadeh, Spielman said: "We just felt he was still a very good football player."
Holt, meanwhile, saw his streak of eight consecutive 1,000-yard seasons end in 2008 amid the Rams' offensive collapse. He still has some productive years left in him, but his days as a deep threat might be behind him. Houshmandzadeh was never a deep threat and thus projected better as a possession receiver as he advanced in years.
I feel less confident in saying the Bears won't make a late run at Holt at some point, not after their out-of-nowhere decision to host free-agent offensive lineman Orlando Pace and cornerback Ken Lucas on Monday. Like Pace, Holt played in St. Louis during Bears coach Lovie Smith's stint as the Rams' defensive coordinator. So the connection exists.
There will be a point soon where teams shut down their free-agent activity pending the results of their draft. We're not quite there yet. But to date, there have been no direct indications that an NFC North team is waiting to pounce on Torry Holt.
A crew of Detroit Lions executives, scouts and coaches will be in Athens, Ga., on Tuesday for the most anticipated private workout of this year's NFL draft.
Quarterback Matthew Stafford will follow a throwing regimen set by the Lions to determine once and for all whether he's worthy of the Lions' No. 1 overall pick. While it's likely they are well on their way to making that decision, this will be Stafford's final opportunity to impact their thinking.
The Lions attended Stafford's pro day on March 19, but the difference is that they can direct this workout, coach Jim Schwartz said last week at the NFL owners meeting.
Schwartz: "We can direct it. We can tell him exactly what to do on a play. We can make him throw into the wind. We can say, 'Hey, these are the throws we want to see.' When somebody else is scripting it, they can accentuate a positive. I can't sing, but probably a good producer could put me in a studio and at least hide it a little bit."
John Niyo of the Detroit News suggests the Lions are putting more stock in Stafford's performance last season for Georgia than they are in any of his draft-season workouts. But the opportunity to put him through a drill that emphasizes their own offense is too good of an opportunity to pass up.
Continuing around the NFC North:
- Sports Illustrated's Peter King believes the Lions will take Baylor offensive lineman Jason Smith with the No. 1 overall pick.
- Minnesota is working on contract extensions for several veterans, reports Judd Zulgad of the Star Tribune. The list likely includes cornerback Antoine Winfield, tailback Chester Taylor, linebacker Chad Greenway and perhaps tailback Adrian Peterson.
- Vikings defensive end Kenechi Udeze, who is attempting a comeback after dealing with an acute case of leukemia, is working out at USC while he completes his degree, Zulgad reports. As a result, Udeze won't participate in the first day of the Vikings' offseason program when it begins next Monday.
- Green Bay fullback John Kuhn, a restricted free agent, seems likely to return to the Packers. Rob Demovsky of the Green Bay Press-Gazette explains.
- A trial involving Packers defensive end Johnny Jolly was postponed until June 26, according to Andy Nelson of the Press-Gazette. Jolly was indicted Oct. 1 for felony possession of a controlled substance in Houston.
- Veteran cornerback Nate Vasher would feel the pressure if Chicago signs cornerback Ken Lucas, writes Brad Biggs of the Chicago Sun-Times.
It's turned out to be a busy day at Chicago's Halas Hall practice facility. Not only has free agent offensive lineman Orlando Pace visited, but the Bears are also hosting free agent cornerback Ken Lucas. Brad Biggs of the Chicago Sun-Times has the story.
Carolina released Lucas this winter for salary-cap reasons. He's been a solid cover man throughout his career with the Panthers and in Seattle, and you would think he'd be the top candidate to start opposite Charles Tillman if he is signed. Currently, that position is manned by Corey Graham and Nate Vasher.
The clock is ticking on both Lucas and Pace. Typically, NFL teams suspend their free agent evaluations at some point as the draft approaches. Then they resume negotiations after determining their remaining needs after the draft.
The Bears have been pretty quiet thus far in the free agent market, but it's starting to be bargain time. Plugging two holes, at least in the short-term, would help them focus their draft strategy considerably.
Posted by ESPN.com staff
- Brad Biggs of the Chicago Sun Times reports the Bears are one of three front-runners to sign Bengals free-agent receiver T.J. Houshmanzadeh. Meanwhile, the Daily Herald's Bob LeGere suggests the team pursue the recently cut Laveranues Coles to fill its need at receiver.
- The Bears aren't likely to be big spenders in free agency, opines the Chicago Tribune's David Haugh.
- Tom Kowalski offers a position-by-position look at the Lions roster, including spots that need to be filled and some of the players who might be targets.
- Also from Kowalski: Now that the Lions' proposed trade for Ken Lucas has fallen through, they continue to pursue a cornerback in the trade market.
- Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel doesn't think the Packers will make a big splash in free agency, but the team could fill some needs in their front seven.