The Detroit Lions started free agency with holes at many positions coming off the worst season in NFL history for any franchise. The stigma of 0-16 was expected to be something the Lions would pay for in free agency and that has indeed been the case.
The Lions were active early and often in the first few days of free agency; however, they had mixed results.
First, they attempted to acquire a solid left guard by trading a future late round draft pick to the Buffalo Bills for Derrick Dockery. This deal would've been a win for the Lions and the front office, but the Bills weren't able to get the paperwork in to the league offices in time and had to release Dockery to avoid paying him a roster bonus.
The Lions still brought Dockery in for a visit and attempted to sign him that way, but he elected to sign with the Washington Redskins for less money.
The Lions also realized that Albert Haynesworth, the prize of the free agent class, wasn't going to be in their price range and wouldn't likely choose the Lions over a similar offer from another team. As a result, the Lions were non-players for him.
Next, they tried to swing a trade for cornerback Ken Lucas of the Carolina Panthers, but Lucas nixed the deal, saying he didn't want to play for Detroit.
Then, in a stroke of genius by Martin Mayhew and Tom Lewand, they channeled the same bartering prowess they displayed when fleecing the Dallas Cowboys for three draft picks (in the trade for Roy Williams), and acquired a starting cornerback in Anthony Henry for a backup quarterback in Jon Kitna who likely would've been released. In addition to getting good value from Dallas, they managed to save $4 million against the cap.
In between those initial happenings, the Lions brought in numerous free agents for visits. While not signing any stellar free agents, the Lions have taken a patient and business-like approach to building the roster. They intend to keep the blueprint of building through the draft and supplementing in free agency.
Overall, their needs were most notable at cornerback (LCB and RCB), linebacker (SLB and MLB), offensive line (LT and G), defensive tackle, and kick returner. They also had a need for a No. 2 wide receiver, No. 2 running back, safety, and tight end.
Here is the current list of Lions visitors, signings, and some of the top remaining players available, along with my take on each position:
FAs Available: Jeff Garcia, Chris Simms, J.P. Losman, Rex Grossman, Joey Harrington
Take: Rumored to be interested in Chris Simms and J.P. Losman. Were involved in a potential deal to bring Jay Cutler. Rex Grossman has said he'd like to play in Detroit as have the top college quarterbacks who will be available in April's draft. The Lions seem comfortable with Daunte Culpepper as the starter and Drew Stanton and Drew Henson as the backups, but will continue to look for another addition.
Visitors: Maurice Morris
Signings: Maurice Morris (Seahawks, three-year deal)
FAs Available: DeShaun Foster, Warrick Dunn, Ahman Green, Kevin Jones
Take: Solid pickup of a back that despite being 30 years old, has low mileage in the NFL and has proven to be successful as a backup in the past. Will likely spell running back Kevin Smith and will be a change of pace and third-down back.
Visitors: Nate Washington, Bryant Johnson
Signings: Bryant Johnson (49ers, three years, $9M)
FAs Available: Drew Bennett, Ronald Curry, Dante Hall, Marvin Harrison, Devery Henderson, Ike Hilliard, Ashley Lelie, Justin McCareins, Reggie Williams
Take: Big receiver and former first-round pick who has largely underachieved after having success in...
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