ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- When Detroit Lions coach Steve Mariucci
attends the NFL combine Thursday, he plans to do more than evaluate
Mariucci also wants to talk with Washington about acquiring star
cornerback Champ Bailey.
"I'm hoping that we can discuss this face-to-face in
Indianapolis," Mariucci said Wednesday. "If the Redskins are
willing to talk about it, we're willing to listen. Champ Bailey is
worth discussing. There's no question about that."
Last week, the Redskins gave Bailey permission to pursue a
Bailey's agent, Jack Reale, said he spoke to "seven or eight"
teams Friday after receiving a call Thursday night from Redskins
owner Dan Snyder.
If the Redskins don't re-sign Bailey or trade him by Feb. 24,
they will probably designate him as a franchise player, which means
they would have to tender him a one-year, $6.8 million offer.
A trade for Bailey could involve a player or draft picks or a
combination of the two.
Lions president Matt Millen, who was in Indianapolis on
Wednesday, said there was nothing to talk about when asked about
the team's interest in Bailey. Millen said he was amused at the
amount of coverage the possible acquisition has generated.
"I just think it's hilarious," said Millen, who added he loved
Bailey as a player.
Mariucci stressed a few times it was premature to determine the
likelihood of acquiring Bailey because the Lions do not know what
Washington will want in return for the four-time Pro Bowler.
"It could be something where the Redskins say, `We need this,
this and this,' and we're simply unable to do that," Mariucci
said. "It might be a moot point soon, but we're interested in
talking about it.
"It would be like a Pudge Rodriguez signing (with the Tigers),
which was very exciting to the city of Detroit."
Bailey's contract expires next month, and talks for a new deal
have gone nowhere. The Redskins offered a nine-year, $55 million
contract with $14.7 million in bonus money before the start of last
Negotiations resumed this month, with the Redskins essentially
making the same offer, except the proposal covered eight years
instead of nine. Bailey has said he wanted a deal that would make
him one of the highest paid defensive players in the league.
"He would command a high salary, and it's worth it. He deserves
it," Mariucci said. "He's one of the elite players.
"In terms of the draft choices that they might be demanding, I
don't know what we're willing to give up for him because of our
situation that we're in. We have some needs to fill, several of
them, not just one. We need to keep that in mind as well."
In Mariucci's first season, the Lions were 5-11 after winning
five games the two previous seasons.
They were 5-3 at home last season, but extended the franchise's
winless streak on the road to an NFL-record 24 games.
One of Detroit's lone bright spots was cornerback Dre' Bly.
The team signed Bly last year as a free agent to a five-year
contract worth about $25 million. He was the first Lions cornerback
selected to start in the Pro Bowl since 1977.
If Detroit acquires Bailey, it likely will spend about $11
million annually for its starting cornerbacks.
"I don't know that I would say that it would be a negative, but
we would have a lot of money tied into one position on our team,"
Mariucci said. "Would you be pretty comfortable with your guys on
the edges? Yeah. You would be as good as anyone in the league with
two Pro Bowl corners."
Bailey's younger brother, Boss, is coming off a strong season as
a rookie linebacker for the Lions. Earlier this month, Detroit
hired defensive backs coach George Catavolos, who coached Bailey in
Washington the past two seasons.