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News » Run for the money


Run for the money


Run for the money
ALLEN PARK -- The free agent market opened this morning at the stroke of midnight, and Detroit Lions general manager Martin Mayhew has a shopping list as long as his arm.


Mayhew, who is expected to skip the big-ticket aisle despite being $39 million under the salary cap, has enough needs to fill an oversized shopping cart. Here's a quick position-by-position look at the Lions roster, which spots need to be filled and some of the players who might be targets.

Defensive line

Because there aren't any high-profile ends available in Free Agency or the draft, the Lions likely will go into the season with the same crew they had last year, with Dewayne White (left side) and Cliff Avril (right side) the starters. On the inside, the Lions need to find a big tackle to go with Cory Redding. They already have Chuck Darby, but the Lions want to get bigger and younger. One guy they will consider is Rocky Bernard of the Seattle Seahawks, who has size (6-foot-3, 310 pounds) and is only 29.

Linebacker

The Lions need to find two starters to go along with Ernie Sims because it doesn't appear the team expects Jordon Dizon, last year's second-round pick, to fill either of those vacancies. There are a lot of possibilities, including Baltimore's Bart Scott (although he has been linked to other teams), Atlanta's Michael Boley and New Orleans' Jonathan Vilma. Mike Peterson of Jacksonville also could be a consideration, but he is 32 and the Lions want to go younger.

Secondary

This unit was supposed to be taken care of last year in Free Agency, but it didn't work out. Starters who were brought in -- Leigh Bodden, Brian Kelly and Dwight Smith -- have been released. The Lions need two starting cornerbacks and a safety, because the team can't count on the injured Gerald Alexander at this point.

The problem for the Lions is that it's slim pickins for young, quality cornerbacks. For that reason, Pittsburgh's Bryant McFadden will have a lot of value on the market. The Lions also will look at Dominique Foxworth of Atlanta and Jabari Greer of Buffalo. Chris Carr, who played at Tennessee under Lions coach Jim Schwartz, could provide cornerback depth and more punch in the return game.

The Lions attempted to trade for cornerback Ken Lucas on Thursday, but the Carolina Panthers veteran -- who would have had to restructure his contract to make the deal work -- refused. According to NFL Network, Lucas indicated he didn't want to play for the Lions.

Mayhew could find an easier time filling the safety spot in Free Agency because there are some pretty good prospects available, including New England's James Sanders and Tennessee's Vincent Fuller. Other considerations could be Tampa Bay's Jermaine Phillips and Cleveland's Sean Jones.

Quarterback

With Dan Orlovsky expected to test Free Agency, the Lions could move quickly to fill the No. 2 spot with a veteran and a couple of prospects, include Pittsburgh's Byron Leftwich, Tennessee's Chris Simms and Chicago's Rex Grossman.

Running back

The Lions are trying to re-sign fullback Moran Norris, but they also need to find a capable backup for Kevin Smith. Derrick Ward of the Giants is a possibility but he's looking to have a bigger role with a team.

Receiver

This is the stuff that makes the Lions the laughingstock of the league -- they've drafted four receivers in the top 10 of the first round in the past six years and they're STILL looking to sign a No. 2 and No. 3 receiver. Tennessee's Brandon Jones and Jacksonville's Reggie Williams will be considered, although the Lions also could wait until the middle rounds of the draft. The Lions also will look to shore up the depth at tight end.

Offensive line

The Lions still have a vacancy at left guard, but that might be filled in the draft if the Lions take Jason Smith or Eugene Monroe with the top pick. Either the rookie or veteran Jeff Backus would slide to the guard position. If the Lions consider that route, it also would reduce the need to find a backup tackle in Free Agency.



Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: February 27, 2009

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