Lions Trying Hard in Free Agency; Will Take Anyone Interested in Playing for an 0-16 Team

Posted by Bob Biscigliano in , ,

The Detroit Lions have been doing everything they can to keep busy and help everyone forget they were the worst team ever last year (and pretty much the last eight years). GM Martin Mayhew has been very active thus far in reaching out and contacting free agents to meet with the team and pursuing trades for all their needs. I have to admit this is probably the most active I have ever seen a Lions team in the offseason in my short lyfetime. Then again, you better be when you just finished 0-16.

Among some of the players in the past few days who have been reported as receiving attention from the Lions are: WR Bryant Johnson, WR Nate Washington, LB Jonathan Vilma, WR T.J. Houshmandzadeh (championship), G Derrick Dockery, CB Ken Lucas, CB Eric King, CB Anthony Henry, RB Maurice Morris, RB Derrick Ward, QB Rex Grossman (sigh), QB Jay Cutler (Wow!), and QB Matt Cassel. Out of those 13 players, the Lions have acquired four already (Maurice Morris, Eric King, Anthony Henry, and Bryant Johnson).

It is also being reported that they are still working on Jay Cutler, Nate Washington and TJ Houshmandzadeh, although these possibilities seem very unlikely. Still, getting a third of what you reportedly pursued is not all that bad for a team that went 0-16 and couldn't even get Dan Orlovsky to resign.

(Not to mention one of those acquisitions was made through a terribly lopsided trade in favor of the Lions, in my opinion. CB Anthony Henry was acquired from the Dallas Cowboys for QB Jon Kitna. In the deal, the Lions receive a CB who has started almost every game for the past three years, and is quite serviceable, for a QB that has better Halloween costumes than game awareness. Kudos to Detroit for taking advantage of the Cowboys again. If I didn't know better, I'd suspect some kind of collusion going on between these two teams. In the words of the bearded friend in "Knocked Up," 'thanks for the free money, bitches.')

Now I realize a lot of fans and critics are saying, "big deal," the Lions signed a few no-names and are merely expressing interest in the bigger names. Any team after going 0-16 should express interest in free agents and, if they are willing to dish enough money out, should at least be able to sign a few of the lower rated guys. This is nothing special and to be expected.

But give them some credit. Convincing a guy to sign with a team coming off an 0-16 season is probably the hardest job ever in the NFL. Mayhew knows, since he's the only one in the history to have to deal with it. Think about it. It has to be similar to swaying John Rocker to watch an episode of "Will and Grace" or persuading David Duchovny to genuinely admit his sex obession is a bad thing. It's not an easy task.

A die-hard Lions fan has to appreciate what Mayhew is doing. He's being super aggressive and giving players and Lions fans a reason to believe that Detroit is not going to just settle for landing chumps and guys in the Army who can't play because they have to serve by doing nothing in FA and just waiting for the draft to improve their team.

I have no idea what Mayhew is up to, but it appears he means business and wants to win some games, unlike past Lions' GMs. By going out and pursuing guys aggressively, he's sending the message to other FAs and players that this Lions team is going to start trying to win, even if it means a thinner checkbook or following free agents on Tweeter. And all it takes is just one bigger name to sign to start the domino affect a la Pudge for the Tigers.

With plenty of names still on the unrestricted free agent list, the Lions still have plenty of options in terms of moves to make before the draft on April 25th.

If I was GM, (which I was very close to being had it not been for the Lions wanting a deferred contract) I would try to land Housh or Nate Washington to get a solid number two WR to take some pressure off of Calvin. Obviously, easier said than done. Simultaneously, I would address the defense. I still stand by my thoughts from fall 2008 that the Lions should try and sign Lawyer Milloy Esq. to provide some veteran leadership in the secondary. He's old, and probably out of their price range, but he would definitely be an asset. (Without considering salary at all, another guy that sticks out to me is LB Zach Thomas. He's also getting up there in age, but he had a great bounce back season with the Cowboys and it would only be fitting for the Lions to steal something else from the 'boys. A signing like this could also allow the Lions to go with someone other than LB Aaron Curry with the first pick, such as an OL or DL they couldn't find in FA, or even a QB)

No matter what, today was exciting because the Lions were practically ten sheets to the wind; aimlessly going around signing anyone that agreed and offering absurd trades for a diabetic Pro-Bowl QB--almost video game-like in demeanor. With that, I'm happy the Lions are making a known effort and I'm already looking forward to their 2009 Super Bowl march into Miami, FL.



I like the Lions' approach to free agency thus far, too. Unlike throwing crazy money at one or two players, like the Redskins, Mayhew seems to be - and I have to emphasize seems to be - more interested in building a team, and filling in holes with solid players who can contribute.

Having said all that, if they were able to pull off a trade for Cutler... wow. (And the Kitna deal appears to be another steal.)

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