Julian Peterson to Be Released by Detroit Lions: Denver Broncos in the Hunt?

Erick SpaltiCorrespondent IJanuary 25, 2011

Julian Peterson, Detroit Lions
Julian Peterson, Detroit LionsJonathan Daniel/Getty Images

The Detroit Lions have announced that they will be releasing LB Julian Peterson after the Super Bowl.

Lions general manager Martin Mayhew said Wednesday, Jan. 5 that Peterson will be released after the Super Bowl, reports Chris McCosky of The Detroit News.

"Any time you make 31 straight starts for a team, you have given a lot of blood, sweat and tears to make that happen," Mayhew said. "I thanked him and told him we weren't going to bring him back."

With the Denver Broncos presumably switching back to the 4-3 defense under John Fox's tutelage, could the Broncos kick Peterson's tires and see if he has two or three more years in his tank?

Robert Ayers and Elvis Dumervil would both presumably switch to DE in the 4-3 scheme. That would leave the Denver Broncos thin at the LB position, and Peterson may be willing to sign for a reasonable price (if the Patriots don't call first).

Over the last two seasons in Detroit, Julian Peterson showed obvious signs of declining but also didn't have the best supporting cast. Trading Ernie Sims to Philadelphia in the offseason may have had some effect on Peterson's sack total with Zack Follett taking over the other LB spot.

2009 Stats: 76 tackles, 4.5 sacks, four pass deflections, five forced fumbles, one fumble recovery

2010 Stats: 83 tackles, one sack, five pass deflections, one fumble recovery

With the Detroit Lions receiving better play on the defensive line courtesy of Ndamukong Suh, the LBs spent more time in coverage, which doesn't suit Peterson's playing style.

Built more in a run-stuffing mold, Peterson could come in and play the ROLB spot in the 4-3 defense. Shift D.J. Williams over to LOLB (where he belongs) and pick up a MLB via the draft or free agency, and the Broncos' LBs aren't in such horrible shape.

Gary Guyton (Patriots), Paul Posluszny (Bills) and David Harris (Jets) are three MLBs who could become free agents this offseason, but not until March 4th. All three may carry a hefty price tag, but Harris would seem to be the best fit for Fox's defense.

Julian Peterson will be released after the Super Bowl. He will be free to sign with anyone immediately upon becoming a free agent. Hopefully the Denver Broncos give him a look and see if he can help the team improve next season. If there's a lockout, getting a player in early makes sense with a new head coach in John Fox.