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The move comes only a few hours after the team signed Justin Miller, another veteran cornerback, to a similar one-year deal. The additions are due to the team's decision to release troubled cornerback Aaron Berry, who had been dealing with legal problems and was arrested for the second time this offseason on Monday.
Via the Detroit Lions' website:
Coleman, 29, was drafted in the sixth round by the Jets in the 2006 NFL Draft and played and played his first five seasons in the league in New York (nine starts). He played 16 games (four starts) with the Jaguars last season. He had 46 tackles, two sacks, two interceptions, forced three fumbles and defended nine passes for the Jaguars last season.
After releasing and voiding the contract of cornerback Aaron Berry on Monday after his second arrest this offseason, the Detroit Lions have agreed to terms with veteran cornerback Justin Miller. The deal is for one year, according to Lions team blog:
Miller, 28, was a second round pick of the Jets (No. 25 overall) in 2005 out of Clemson. He started 12 games his first two seasons with the Jets, but made his biggest impact as a kick returner. He averaged 26.3 yards per kickoff return as a rookie with one touchdown. He averaged 28.3 yards per return his second season with two more touchdowns, earning a Pro Bowl nod as the AFC's return specialist.
Miller worked out for the Lions on Wednesday and he provides much needed depth to the secondary with the departure of Berry.
Scott originally began his NFL career with the Lions in 2006 as a fifth round selection, but was cut shortly before his third season due to poor play. He then bounced around to Buffalo before landing in Pittsburgh in 2010, where he managed to record 14 starts on the line over the last two seasons. A 6'6", 318-pound presence who really never appeared consistent enough to cut it in the pros as a starter while he was fighting for playing time in Detroit, Scott will join a jam-packed competition for a starting tackle spot in camp alongside names like Jeff Backus, Riley Reiff, Corey Hilliard and Gosder Cherilus.
To make room on the 90-man roster, the Lions cut ties with offensive lineman Johnny Culbreath, a seventh round draft pick in 2011. Culbreath was the first of seven Lions players to embarrass the organization with his decision-making this offseason after being arrested for marijuana possession in January, and is now the second (after Aaron Berry) to be released from the roster.
On Monday afternoon, the Detroit Lions announced that the club had come to terms with wide receiver Dominique Curry on a contract. Curry had spent the last two seasons with the St. Louis Rams, as the team signed him as an undrafted free agent out of California (PA) in 2010.
The Lions have signed WR Dominique Curry. He spent the last two years with the Rams. Things are getting crowded in that receivers room (13).— Tim Twentyman (@ttwentyman) July 23, 2012
After being part of the practice squad for most of his first season, Curry played in all 16 games last season, mostly in the role of a special teams player, and he did not record a single reception but did manage to collect 10 tackles.
With the addition of the 23-year-old, 6-foot-2, 224 pound receiver, the Lions have 13 receivers on their 90-man roster, which undoubtedly will make competition at training camp all the more intense.
On Monday afternoon, the Detroit Lions and franchise tendered defensive end Cliff Avril failed to reach an agreement on a long-term contract prior to the 4 p.m. deadline on July 16, which means Avril will be forced to play the 2012 season under a franchise tender of $10.6 million.
As the clock passed 4 p.m., both sides released statements expressing disappointment in not getting a deal done and Avril explained that he would probably not be reporting to training camp but expected to play in all 16 games of the regular season.
Despite the disappointment, Avril told NFL Network's Albert Breer that the sides were close and that he is still interested in working out a long-term commitment with the Lions.
Most notably, he hopes to win a Super Bowl with the team some day soon.
"We were close, I thought we should've gotten it done, we could've gotten it done, but we didn't," he said. "They were firm on what they believed in, we were firm on what we believed in, what the market would bear. We couldn't get it done, but I definitely want to be with the Lions.
"I was on the 0-16 team, so it'd be amazing to be part of a big winning streak here, or a Super Bowl champion(ship)," he said. "It'd be a great ending to something that started so bad. But sometimes the business aspects of this league don't allow those stories to be told, because of the financial side of this. I would love to be here."
Avril reportedly rejected a three-year, $30 million final offer from the Lions on Monday because he hopes to sign a deal similar to the five-year, $55 million deal given to Calais Campbell by the Arizona Cardinals.
On Monday afternoon, the Detroit Lions and franchise tendered defensive end Cliff Avril were unable to come to terms on a long-term contract extension prior to the 4 p.m. deadline. However, it didn't come without a final attempt by the Lions to get a deal done.
According to NFL Network's Albert Breer, Avril rejected a final offer of three years and $30 million with $20 million guaranteed from the Lions.
Lions' final offer to Cliff Avril was worth about $30 million over 3 years, with $20 million guaranteed. Couldn't quite close the deal out.— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) July 16, 2012
This means that Avril will have to play the 2012 season under the franchise tender of $10.6 million and will have to wait until next offseason to sign a long-term deal.
The Detroit Lions were unable to come to terms on a long-term contract extension with defensive end Cliff Avril prior to the 4 p.m. deadline on July 16, which means that the 26-year-old will be forced to play the entirety of the 2012 season under a franchise tender of $10.6 million.
After the deadline came and passed, the Lions front office released a statement about their disappointment in not being able to come to agreement with Avril on a long-term deal. Via the Twitter account of Tim Twentyman:
"After extensive discussions with Cliff and his representative, we were unable to reach an agreement on a new contract by today's 4 p.m. deadline. While we are disappointed that we could not execute a long-term deal, we do look forward to having Cliff with us this season under the terms of the franchise tag."
Avril also released a statement on Monday that expressed disappointment in the situation.
The two sides will not be able to negotiate a long-term contract until next offseason.
At the time of writing, there are about 10 minutes left until the deadline for the Detroit Lions to get defensive lineman Cliff Avril signed to a long-term contract. It's already been reported that a deal is not coming though and that Avril will play the 2012 season on the franchise tag. The team will not be able to sign him to a long-term contract until the end of the upcoming season.
Avril had a statement, which Tim Twentyman posted on Twitter, in which Avril says it's just business and he's not stressed:
Avril: "I'm not stressed out about anything. Business is business. It's not personal. My goal is to just keep getting better."— Tim Twentyman (@ttwentyman) July 16, 2012
So it seems Avril will be able to come in and do his job, but there is definite disappointment there. On top of that, Avril said it was likely he wouldn't be in camp on day one, as reported in another tweet. That's somewhat worrying, because it's an issue that happens quite a bit with franchised players and their performance almost always suffers because of it.
NFL training camps are specifically designed so players are ready for Week 1 of the season. When franchise-tagged players don't sign their tags and instead elect to wait until the last minute before coming into camp to play, they often are a bit sluggish and rusty throughout the first couple weeks of the season. Still, Avril says above that he's trying to get better, so hopefully his personal camp is just as good.
As soon as the Detroit Lions made sure all of their coaching staff would be returning for the upcoming season, they turned their focus to making long-term deals work with pending free agents. Wide receiver Calvin Johnson got what he was looking for, and there was a lot of optimism surrounding defensive end Cliff Avril, whom the Lions designated as their franchise player for the upcoming season.
That being said, the deadline to get a deal done was inching closer and closer. Now, there's less than two hours to get a deal done before the deadline hits, and it's looking like it's not going to get done, according to Albert Breer on Twitter:
Negotiations between the Lions and @cliffavril have broken off, and it's now a near-certainty a long-term deal will not be reached by 4 p.m.— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) July 16, 2012
If no deal is reached by 4 p.m., then Avril will essentially have to play under his franchise tag and the Lions will have to wait until the end of the season to work on getting him signed to an extension. The team also could use the franchise tag on him again next season, but that would mean he gets a $2 million raise on top of the already high-priced tag.
There has been optimism from both sides regarding Cliff Avril ever since the Detroit Lions put the franchise tag on their star defensive end. Avril, his agent and the Lions have all made it clear that they want Avril inked to a new deal, and a long-term one if possible.
It hasn't happened yet, and time is running very short for the sides to work out something. If they don't, the process will repeat once again next offseason.
The deadline for signing players is Monday at 4 p.m. Eastern time. If no deal is made, the team can always wait until the winter to sign Avril, but by that point he might want to just test the waters of free agency, where his skills will assuredly be coveted by plenty of teams willing to give him the big paycheck he's looking for.
They could always tag him again -- a move that would give him a two million dollar raise from the $10 million he's receiving this season thanks to the franchise tag -- but the Lions might not want to because of the salary cap hit that would offer them. As the Detroit Free Press reports, there will be potentially better options to use the tag on next year for Detroit, which could leave Avril on the free agent market:
The Lions have a number of key players headed for unrestricted free agency next year, including Avril's potential replacement, backup defensive end Lawrence Jackson, and starters Corey Williams, Justin Durant, DeAndre Levy, Louis Delmas, Chris Houston and Gosder Cherilus. Delmas could be a more viable option for the franchise tag considering his importance to the secondary, the relatively cheap price of safeties (the safety tag was $6.2 million this year) and his injury history.
Avril will play for the Lions this fall, there's no question about that. Unfortunately, his future with the team could be in jeopardy if there is no ink on a contract by 4 p.m. on Monday. Avril did remain optimistic all the way until Monday, especially after seeing his fellow Purdue alum Drew Brees shake off the franchise tag and get a huge contract with the Saints:
"One Boilermaker signed, let's see if we can get another one," Avril said. "Hopefully. We'll see."
It's up to the Lions now, if they want to dole out the cash to one of the fastest rising stars defensively in the game, they'll need to do it quickly.
Since the Lions' placed the franchise tag on defensive end Cliff Avril in March, he and his agent, Brian Mackler, have remained optimistic that Avril could work out a long-term deal with the team. As the Monday deadline fast approaches, however, for reaching a multi-year deal, Avril is expressing some doubt that a deal can get done, according to a report in the Detroit Free Press.
"I'm hopeful, but I don't know," Avril told the Free Press. "I'm not getting a good vibe, let's put it that way. But I'm hopeful."
Avril is one of the remaining "franchise" players in the National Football League who have not yet signed either a one-year tender or agreed to a long-term contract. Avril, a fifth-year player out of Purdue, has said he would play this season for the $10.6 million tender without a new contract, but it is uncertain if that means he would join the Lions for the start of training camp on July 26.
"If we don't get a deal done, I'll fly out to New York (meet with his agent), and figure something out from that point on," Avril said. The contract deadline is 4 p.m. ET on Monday.
The 2012 NFL Supplemental Draft has wrapped up and, wouldn't you know it, the Detroit Lions didn't pick any players. Then again, 31 teams also did not pick any players in this draft (same as the previous year, matter of fact). The Cleveland Browns were the only team to make a pick, selecting former Baylor wide receiver Josh Gordon with a second-round selection.
Teams that make a selection in the supplemental draft forfeit a pick of equal value in the following draft, so the Browns will be without their second-round pick in 2013. Gordon was viewed by most as the only player really worth taking with a pick in this draft, with most suggesting that he wouldn't make it past the fourth round. It was unlikely that the Lions would have picked him with their current group of wide receivers, regardless.
The Lions have only ever picked one player in the supplemental draft, defensive back Kevin Robinson with a ninth-round selection in 1982.
On Tuesday afternoon, Detroit Lions defensive end Cliff Avril was a guest on SiriusXM NFL Radio and discussed his ongoing contract talks with the Lions. Detroit has until Monday to reach an agreement with Avril on a long-term extension prior to the deadline for players with franchise tags to do so.
The negotiations have dragged on for months and it has seemed as though a multi-year deal was a long shot. Now, it appears as though it may be possible, as Avril described the talks as progressing. Via ESPN.com:
Avril: "I think we are moving closer. We are progressing. But there are still things that need to be ironed out, like the numbers."
The two sides have six days to complete a deal or Avril will play the 2012 season under the franchise tag.
Free agency signings around the NFL have started to slow down with the draft now a far memory and most teams settling on which undrafted FA's they want to keep going into camps. There's still one or two a week going on, and the Detroit Lions made a minor swap on Thursday.
Lions have signed long snapper Matt Camilli (UTEP). Released G Pat Boyle to make room on the roster. Camilli worked out for the team Thurs.— Tim Twentyman (@ttwentyman) June 29, 2012
Camilli was originally picked up by the Eagles as a UDFA before being released. Boyle had been with the Lions the entire off season up until he was released.
Teams don't tend to carry more than one long snapper on their final rosters come the NFL season, so Camilli is likely to only stick as a camp body.
The Detroit Lions have been looking for help in their secondary all offseason. They lost cornerback Eric Wright early on and it was generally their weakest spot on the team in 2011. There were times when Matthew Stafford and the offense was on par with the best in the league but the defense just couldn't hold things together. On top of getting some help in the draft at cornerback, the Lions have been auditioning veteran safeties to come in and provide some help.
Louis Delmas and Amari Spievey are solid, but there's not much depth behind either of them, and most are of the opinion that the strong safety spot could still stand to be upgraded. According to Tim Twentyman on the official website, the Lions have made a signing: Sean Jones.
The team agreed to terms on a one-year contract with veteran Sean Jones on Monday, according to a league source. Jones passed his physical with the team on Monday. An unrestricted free agent, Jones, 30, visited the Lions' practice facility in Allen Park in early May, but left without a contract.
Jones has been a starter for the past two seasons with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who made moves in this past draft to draft Mark Barron early in the first round to replace Jones. He started all 32 games over the past two seasons with Tampa Bay.
According to the piece, the Lions had been giving the younger guys a longer look during the team's minicamp, but that general manager Martin Mayhew didn't see all he needed to see. Jones will come in and try to make a dent by unseating Spievey at the strong safety position, but as noted, safety wasn't the weakest part of the secondary in 2012. Cornerback was decidedly weaker and Spievey had a solid year, so Jones might only get as far as depth if he does make the roster.
The team had also looked at O.J. Atogwe and Chris Crocker this offseason. Atogwe is clearly the bigger name of the three, but he signed with the Philadelphia Eagles recently. Jones has started 85 games though and isn't too far behind Atogwe when it all comes down to it.
The juggling of free agents in the offseason continued for the Detroit Lions on Friday, as they released safety Alonzo Lawrence in order to claim cornerback Dontrell Johnson off waivers. The minor move was originally reported on Twitter by Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press.
Lions have released S Alonzo Lawrence and claimed CB Dontrell Johnson off waivers from Jacksonville— Dave Birkett (@davebirkett) June 22, 2012
Johnson was originally picked up by the Jacksonville Jaguars before being waived. He went to Murray State, picking up three interceptions in two years along with earning some good numbers in the punt return game, a position that the Lions have been working on this offseason.
Lawrence had originally been picked up by the Lions out of Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College and had faced a very steep uphill battle to make the final roster for the team.
The Detroit Lions have agreed to a one-year deal with quarterback R.J. Archer, according to Lions writer Tim Twentyman:
Lions have agreed to terms on one year deal with QB R.J. Archer, according to league source. Another arm for camp. He was at rookie minicamp— Tim Twentyman (@ttwentyman) June 21, 2012
Archer, 24, played college football at William & Mary. He played last season in the Arena Football League for the Georgia Force. He completed 229 of 382 attempts for 49 touchdowns.
He signed with the Minnesota Vikings as an undrafted free agent in 2010. He never took a snap in an NFL game.
Avril did not participate in last week's minicamp since he isn't under contract with the team, but he did drop by the NFL Network studios for an appearance on "Total Access" where he touched on his contract situation and his desire to continue chasing down quarterbacks off the edge for the Lions.
"Yeah we're talking," he said. "We're still trying to get things figured out before camp. I want to be there long term. I want to get a deal done. I don't want to play under the franchise tag. I've been with the team for four, going on five years; started off a little shaky, 0-16. I want to be with the team when we make the Super Bowl run."
As Carlos Monarrez reports, Avril went on to discuss several issues involving the Lions, sounding very much like a player expecting to be lining up with the Lions again next season.
The Detroit Lions are pretty set at the wide receiver position. Calvin Johnson is potentially the best in the NFL at what he does and was recently rewarded with an appearance on the Madden NFL 13 cover. The team also has young prospect Titus Young, and they're hoping that he makes the jump this season and breaks out. On top of that, the team recently signed Maurice Stovall.
Stovall was with the Lions last season and played special teams, but the team isn't done bringing in wide receivers. According to the official website, the Lions worked out free agent wide receiver Jarett Dillard on Monday and have signed him to a one-year contract.
Dillard played with the Jacksonville Jaguars a season ago and caught 29 passes for 292 yards and a touchdown. The team released him in May, and some consider him to have some decent potential to make it on a roster and see the field as a wide receiver (and not just on special teams). He does have some injury history though, missing the entire 2010 season with a foot injury that really set him back with the Jaguars.
Detroit will need to make room on their 90-man roster for Dillard and there's no word yet on how they're doing that.
On Monday afternoon, the Detroit Lions agreed to terms on a one-year contract with free agent wide receiver Maurice Stovall. A member of the Lions last season, Stovall played in 15 games with Detroit mainly as a member of the special teams unit but did manage to record one reception for eight yards. Standing at six-foot-five, 220 pounds, it is assumed that Stovall will once again be a contributor to the Lions special teams this season.
As of this time, there is no word from the Lions as to who the team will be releasing from the 90-man roster in order to make room for Stovall because the organization has a policy to refrain from comment until the contract is actually signed. This will be Stovall's second consecutive one-year contract with the Lions. Prior to coming to Detroit he spent five years in Tampa Bay as a member of the Buccaneers.
Back in March, 21 different players around the NFL were given franchise tags. Detroit Lions star defensive end Cliff Avril was among them, but was none too happy about it as he sought out a bigger contract.
The Franchise Tag price for a DE is $10.605 million dollars, but according to a report by NFL.com, Avril is seeking more than the $10 million, one year deal that the tag would offer and won't sign the deal. He is looking for something more in the range of a four years and $42 million from Detroit.
The Lions and Avril's people aren't near reaching a deal, either. In fact, the sides are separated by around $2 million per year on Avril's worth, according to sources with knowledge of the situation. The player's side is looking for something with a yearly average exceeding the $10.605 million attached to the tender, over four years, which would top $42 million, with more than half of it guaranteed. The Lions have made several offers. But nothing's close.
Contract talks look like they're going to keep going between Avril and the Lions up until the signing deadline of July 16. At that point, trouble could start if Avril begins to miss mandatory camps while seeking more cash. That's starting to look like a possibility with the number of rejected deals that the Lions have put forth to get their DE back on the squad.
The Detroit Lions recently hosted safety Chris Crocker, though he left without signing. He was the second safety to visit the team this offseason, with O.J. Atogwe being the first earlier in the offseason. Now, the Lions have brought in a third candidate, according to Adam Caplan on Twitter.
The Lions have a very weak secondary as it stands, though they attempted to address that in the NFL Draft. Still, they lost cornerback Eric Wright and there's not much else to hang their hat on when it comes to the secondary. Many believe it's the weakest part of the team and it'll be hard to find an argument to the contrary.
Jones played in all 16 games for the Buccaneers last year, starting all of them as well. He had 76 tackles, a sack, and three passes defensed, but he's not much of a ball hawk at this point. He's got 17 career interceptions, but hasn't had more than four in a single season since 2008 when he played for the Cleveland Browns.
The Detroit Lions did not bother to upgrade the safety position in last month's NFL Draft, but continue to weigh their options on the free agent market with a significant hole in the secondary. On Tuesday, 32-year-old defensive back Chris Crocker, who started 16 games for a playoff-bound Cincinnati Bengals squad last season, toured Lions facilities.
Despite Detroit's obvious interest in his services, Crocker left town without signing with the team and general manager Martin Mayhew, and is now expected to head out West to check out Arizona and possibly San Francisco. According to The Detroit Free Press' Dave Birkett however, Crocker's visit went well, and the veteran safety is expected to decide on a new team in the coming weeks.
For the Lions, the decision to wait on adding a defensive back in the draft could force the organization's hand when it comes to free agency. Crocker is hardly the ideal signing when it comes to adding a playmaker to the back end, but players of that specific mold could be few and far between on the free agent market, and especially when you consider Mayhew's monetary constraints.
Working in Detroit's favor here is that Crocker would have a great opportunity for consistent playing time at safety here knowing the Lions' lack of depth at the position. Starter Louis Delmas has continued to show flashes of brilliance, but continues to struggle with injuries and might not be able to make it through a full 16-game slate. If playing time and a chance to be "the guy" at the safety position are each what Crocker is after, then Detroit should be quite high on his list.
Stay with SB Nation Detroit's StoryStream for more Lions offseason news as it happens. For more on Detroit Lions football, head over to Pride of Detroit. For more NFL offseason coverage, check out SB Nation's NFL hub.
Amidst the rumors of the Detroit Lion's possible contract offer to running back Ryan Grant, along with Grant's rumored visit to Detroit, it turns out Grant might not be a Detroit Lion this upcoming season after all.
John Clayton told SportsCenter on Tuesday that Grant will not visit Detroit on Tuesday for both monetary and situational reasons:
To Ryan, it's not a matter of just the money. Ryan wants to make sure it's the right situation, as far as, if he has the chance to compete for the starting job, if he does have a chance to compete if he can make the right type of money with that. More so than anything else, they just couldn't come to at least a close enough money agreement that he would make that trip. (Via: Pro Football Talk)
Grant's agent, Alan Herman told the Detroit News last week that Grant would be visiting on Monday, but the visit never took place. Grant does not have a future visit scheduled with the Lions.
The 29-year old running back is looking for his first new home after spending five seasons with the Green Bay Packers. In 2011, Grant started in 14 games, rushing for 559 yards and scoring two touchdowns. Grant came into 2011 coming off of an ankle injury he suffered in 2010.
Crocker could also be a good fit with the Kansas City Chiefs.
The Lions drafted three defensive backs in last month's draft, but still have a pressing need at the safety position. Crocker was cut by the Bengals in early April due to concerns of his ability to play coming off of knee surgery. The ten-year NFL veteran played in 16 games for the Bengals last season, with 61 tackles, 3.5 sacks and 5 pass deflections.
There was no real running back pick up in the 2012 NFL Draft for the Detroit Lions, so they seem to be leaning toward the free agency market to fill their void of healthy depth in the backfield. There's a pretty good option available to them right now in former Green Bay RB Ryan Grant, who seems to be close to striking up something with the Lions.
Rumors of Grant being a possible target for the Lions started before Friday, but the Detroit Free Press reported on Friday that Grant will be officially visiting the team on Monday, a good sign for a possible signing. It looks good on that front, according to the article:
The sides have had contract talks and are within striking distance of a deal.
Currently the Lions backfield contains several guys coming off of injuries including Jahvid Best and Mikel Leshoure, both talented but both coming off of injured reserve. Best in particular will be watched closely after two concussions. Grant has had success in the league before with two 1000+ yard seasons to his credit but was injured badly in 2010 and was mediocre in a tandem last season for the Packers.
With contract talks already starting, it won't be a surprise to see Grant in powder blue next season since he has reportedly had little contact with his old team. There probably won't be an announcement until after his official visit after the weekend even if a contract is agreed upon, though.
The Detroit Lions might be able to steal away a major contributor from the Green Bay Packers. Free agent running back Ryan Grant is considering an offer from Detroit. However, he still believes Green Bay is interested in bringing him back, according to ESPN Milwaukee.
Last year, Grant and James Starks split running back duties for Green Bay. Grant carried the ball 134 times for 559 yards and two touchdowns.
After back-to-back seasons of over 1,200 rushing yards for Grant in 2008 and 2009, durability has become a question for the running back. During the past two seasons he's appeared in 16 of the team's 32 regular season games.
He is also believed to have an offer from the New England Patriots.
Grant is entering his sixth season and will be 29 years old in Week 1.
We just wrapped up the 2012 NFL Draft, but there's still a world outside of draftees and undrafted free agents. The Detroit Lions are still getting their 90-man roster set for offseason activities leading up to the preseason and, eventually, the roster cuts.
They've got the post-draft, post-UDFA signings kicked off with the signing of veteran wide receiver Lance Long, according to the Lions' official website. Long was most recently on the San Francisco 49ers, where he lost out to guys like Joe Hastings and Brett Swain for a spot on the final 53-man roster. He was part of the final cuts during training camp last year.
Long has bounced his way around practice squads, playing for the Arizona Cardinals and Kansas City Chiefs in the past. He has been regarded as someone with decent potential, and had 20 catches for 178 yards with the Chiefs in seven games. That being said, he might just be a camp body.
Detroit made wide receiver a point of focus in the NFL Draft, taking Ryan Broyles out of Oklahoma at the No. 54 overall pick (round two). Broyles had some injury problems coming into the draft and his stock slipped a little, but it looks as though they're unrelated to this signing, as he's going at or close to 100 percent.
The Detroit Lions are just rounding things up in free agency before the bulk of their offseason activities begin, getting their restricted free agents to sign their tenders (with defensive lineman Sammie Hill being the last one to sign, on Thursday) and, apparently, trying to claim a second kicker. Jason La Canfora of the NFL Network Tweeted on Thursday that the team tried to claim kicker Kai Forbath:
Ex Cowboys K Kai Forbath, who was awarded to Tampa on waivers Wed, was also claimed by Detroit. TB had higher waiver order— Jason La Canfora (@JasonLaCanfora) April 19, 2012
This is par the course for the Lions, who like to bring in an extra kicker for the offseason program and the prseason so Jason Hanson, who is 41 years-old, doesn't have to take all of the snaps. Hanson's job is secure - with 24 field goals made in 2011. He also made all 54 of his extra point attempts, though that's a less-impressive stat.
It is worth noting that Forbath is considered a kicker with solid potential, he just missed his rookie season after signing on with the Dallas Cowboys. Out of UCLA, he was considered to be one of the top kickers coming out, so there is a chance that the Lions were looking for Hanson's eventual replacement, given his age. Either way, Forbath is on his way to the Buccaneers.
The Detroit Lions now have all of their restricted free agents under contract for the 2012 season. According to Chris McCosky on Twitter, Lions president Tom Lewand told season ticket holders on Thursday that defensive tackle Sammie Hill has signed his tender.
Hill was waiting until the end of restricted free agency to see if any interest came up for him, but apparently there was none. Hill was given an original-round tender, but it was assumed he would be back with the Lions some time ago. Most recently, Hill had signed an injury waiver to participate in the offseason program while not under contract, but now that is superfluous. Hill provides good depth for the Lions on their defensive line, which is definitely a team strength.
The news follows the the signings of DeAndre Levy and Corey Hilliard, who both signed their restricted free agent tenders on Monday. As noted above, Hill is the last to sign his tender and the Lions are good-to-go on that front for this coming season.
The latest news on Detroit Lions LB DeAndre Levy, who was second on the team in tackles last year, was that he was going to sign his restricted free agency tender, and DetroitLions.com announced on Monday that he did just that. He was one of two Lions players to sign tenders, with offensive tackle Corey Hilliard the other.
As a reserve tackle in 2011, Hilliard started a single game but played in all 16 games in his third year with the Lions.
The Lions also announced in the same article that DT Sammie Hill has not yet signed his tender but has signed a waiver to participate in the Lions training program. Hill had one and a half sacks alongside 24 tackles in 2011.
For more news on the Detroit Lions, head over to Pride Of Detroit. For more on the NFL Free Agency period as the season approaches, check out the SB Nation NFL Hub or the specialized NFL Free Agency hub.
Linebacker DeAndre Levy entered the 2012 offseason as a restricted free agent, which means if he were to sign an offer sheet from another team, the Detroit Lions would have the right to match that offer or receive a draft pick as compensation.
That all won't be necessary, though, because Levy intends to sign the tender offered by the Lions and join some of his teammates in Detroit this weekend for voluntary workouts next week:
Levy, one of 10 returning starters on the Lions defense, will take part in the voluntary workouts, which begin Monday.
The Lions gave Levy a second-round tender worth $1.92 million before the start of free agency last month. A third-round pick out of Wisconsin in 2009, Levy will be an unrestricted free agent next year.
Levy was second on the team last year with 109 tackles and has started all but six games in his first three seasons in the League.
The Detroit Lions have been low-key regarding their approach to free agency, with the only real splashes this offseason coming in regards to re-signing their own players, like wide receiver Calvin Johnson. Still, the team has made signings here and there - bringing back Kevin Smith to help the running back position and signing some high-potential folks, most notably Everette Brown.
That being said, the Lions aren't likely to make many more moves. You might ask why that's the case, and look no further than the salary cap. Jason LaCanfora of the NFL Network posted an updated look at every team's salary cap situation on Friday:
Current contracts: 47
Previous year carryover: $1,364,071.00
Adjusted cap: $124,766,555.00
Team cap: $120,246,822.00
Cap room: $4,519,733.00
Team cash: $117,573,300.00
With a little over $4.5 million in cap room available, the Lions are essentially where they need to be, so they can get all of their 2012 draftees under contract. Of course, some players will be cut and some may even get new deals, but at this point, the Lions have just enough to make sure they get the rookies signed up - thanks to the rookie wage scale in the new collective bargaining agreement.
Kevin Smith returns to the Lions on a one-year deal, per league source.— ProFootballTalk (@ProFootballTalk) March 27, 2012
Smith, who has played four seasons in the NFL, played in just seven games last season. He averaged a solid 4.9 yards per carry but, for the second straight season, couldn't stay on the field.
In 2010 Smith was returning from a torn ACL then landed on IR because of a thumb injury. Last year the Lions didn't sign him, but picked him up halfway through the season when the backfield got thin. Smith had one great game -- a 16-carry, 140-yard effort against the Carolina Panthers -- before again suffering injuries.
Over the last two seasons he has played just 13 games.
The Central Florida product had his best season as a rookie in 2008. Playing in all 16 games, he rushed for 976 yards and eight touchdowns, both career highs, and averaged 4.1 yards per carry.
The Detroit Lions have been relatively active in hosting free agents this offseason, looking to bolster its defense, particularly at defensive back. One way they might be able to add some low rent depth there is by taking a look at former Chicago Bears Pro Bowl coverage specialist Corey Graham, who is also hoping to play more at his natural cornerback position in 2012.
According to the Detroit Free Press, the Lions might be able to ransack the Bears' special teams for a second straight season:
The Detroit Lions raided division rival Chicago Bears for one of their best special teams players last year in Rashied Davis, and they could lure away another one this off-season.
Corey Graham, who was voted to the Pro Bowl as a coverage specialist last year, made a free-agent visit to the Lions today. Graham left town without a contract, but the 26-year-old said he would have no problem switching uniforms.
Graham had three interceptions last season in limited action, but hasn't started a game since 2009 when he started nine and finished with a pick and a fumble recovery to go along with 70 tackles.
Lions sign DE Everette Brown, LB Ashlee Palmer and TE Will Heller to one-year deals.— Tim Twentyman (@ttwentyman) March 22, 2012
The Lions released Heller a week ago to save salary cap space. Heller caught six passes for 42 yards last season, but will most likely be used a blocking tight end. He will back up Brandon Pettigrew and Tony Scheffler.
Brown was released earlier this month by the San Diego Chargers where he played three games last season, recording two tackles. He has played three seasons in the NFL, recording just six sacks, despite being heralded as an elite pass-rusher coming out of Florida State in 2009.
The Detroit Lions have made the signing of the 2012 free agency period. When it's looked back on in years to come, this crop of players will be defined by the one signing ... or probably not. Tim Twentyman is reporting that the Detroit Lions have re-signed Don Muhlbach to a one-year deal. He's a long snapper, and a very good one at that.
The Lions have re-signed LS Don Muhlbach to a 1-year deal. He's spent his entire 8-year career with team. One of those unsung signings.— Tim Twentyman (@ttwentyman) March 21, 2012
No terms have been released but one can imagine it's in line with every other long snapper signing. It's true that they are definitely unsung signings, especially due to the fact that you never hear their name if they're doing their job flawlessly. If you know a lot about a long snapper, he's either fun with the media or he plays for the Dallas Cowboys.
At any rate - good signing for Detroit. He's been there for eight years - his entire career - and given how long snappers generally are, could have many more one-year deals in his future, providing you don't hear his name called during the 2012 season.
The Lions brought back Kevin Smith last November when Jahvid Best was placed on the injured reserve and, after 72 carries for 356 yards and seven total touchdowns in seven games, the Lions are interested in re-signing the 25-year-old running back out of Central Florida, according to MLIVE's sources. Smith believe he's a Lion until told otherwise:
"In every interview that I've done, even though I'm a free agent, I've referred to the team and me as us," Smith told MLive.com last month. "I'm on the Lions roster, in my opinion, until I'm not on the Lions roster. That says it all.
When healthy, Kevin Smith is very useful, but unfortunately, he seems to be injury prone in the truest sense of the meaning. If the Lions do re-sign Smith, he'll join Jahvid Best, who is a constant concussion concern, and Mikel LeShoure, who missed last season with an Achilles injury, as the Lions running backs on the depth chart. That might be the most questionable running back trio in the NFL.
The Lions have agreed to terms on a 1-year deal with LB Ashlee Palmer, per a league source.— Dave Birkett (@davebirkett) March 20, 2012
The financials of the deal have not yet been revealed. The Lions non-tendered Palmer as a restricted free agent but wanted to re-sign him to a lesser deal as a special teams player and backup linebacker.
Palmer, 25, played sparingly over the last two seasons, recording 55 tackles in 2010 and eight tackles last season. Detroit also re-signed middle linebacker Stephen Tulloch to a five-year deal earlier Thursday. Tulloch was the Lions top priority after they signed Calvin Johnson to the richest contract of any wide receiver in the NFL.
Tulloch, 27, played his first five season with the Tennessee Titans before signing with the Lions prior to last season. He recorded 111 tackles, three sacks and two interceptions while starting all 16 games for the Lions.
Detroit was able to open up some cap space to make the signing by restructuring the contracts of Matthew Stafford, Ndamukong Suh and Nate Burleson. The Lions recently signed wide receiver Calvin Johnson to an eight-year deal worth $132 million, making him the highest paid wide receiver in the NFL.
The Philadelphia Eagles and the Tampa Bay Bucs were also reportedly interested in Tulloch's services.
The Detroit Lions have been making moves over the last couple days, re-signing some key pieces to their team and being active in getting workouts with the remaining players during this free agency period. It seems that they'll never be satisfied with their defensive line youth and depth, however, as Adam Caplan is reporting via Twitter that the team will host Everette Brown over the next 24 hours:
Former Panthers DE/OLB Everette Brown is expected to visit the Lions over the next 24 hours. Was waived by the Chargers last weekend.— Adam Caplan (@caplannfl) March 20, 2012
Brown is a defensive end who was drafted in the second round of the 2009 NFL Draft. The Carolina Panthers actually gave up a first-round pick to the San Francisco 49ers to move up into that spot to take him. Since then, Brown has shown limited production in the NFL despite what was considered a very high upside.
In addition to that, he's been unable to put on muscle mass and maintain it, and is still considered by many to be under-sized. Still, at just 24 years-old, Brown still has plenty of potential to live up to his draft position. After being waived by the Chargers, it's unlikely that Brown will command much more than a minimum type deal. He's only had six sacks in 31 games in the NFL.
The team has agreed to terms on a one-year deal with free agent cornerback Jacob Lacey. The 24-year-old Lacey has played his entire three-year career with the Indianapolis Colts, but was not offered a restricted free agent tender.
The Oklahoma State product has started 27 games. Last season he appeared in 15 games and recorded 72 tackles and one interception.
The Lions have also re-signed defensive tackle Andre Fluellen. Last season Fluellen appeared in 13 games, recording 11 tackles and a forced fumble.
In 2011 the Lions were in the bottom half of the league, giving up 24.2 points per game.
Graham is a former professional Australian rules footballer who tied Andy Lee's NFL record in 2009 by landing 42 punts inside the opponent's 20-yard line. Since debuting in 2005 with the New York Jets, Graham has punted 462 times with an average of 44.2 yards per punt.
Last season, Graham joined the Lions after punter Ryan Donahue went down with an injury in practice. In the final seven games of the season, he landed 10 punts inside the 20-yard line and averaged 44.1 yards per punt.
Donahue, who average 42.7 yards per punt as an undrafted free agent out of Iowa, will likely battle Graham for the right to play the position.
The Detroit Lions certainly aren't hurting for depth on their defensive line, especially at the defensive tackle position. Ndamukong Suh, Corey Williams and Nick Fairley are good to go through 2012, while the team has Sammie Hill as a restricted free agent. Not a whole lot of thought has gone to Andre Fluellen, who also served as a backup with the Lions in 2011. He's been there for the past four years, since being drafted, and is now an unrestricted free agent.
He's held workouts with the St. Louis Rams and Cincinnati Bengals, and not much has been said about a possible return to the Lions. That is, until now - the Detroit Free Press had some quotes from him in which he expressed interests in returning, providing there's interest.
"Detroit's been too good to me, so I would never (close the door on returning)," Fluellen said today. "Detroit could easily be a place that I land and be back home."
While it hasn't been discussed much, it could make a lot of sense. Fluellen did get some playing time in 13 games in 2011, which is worth noting given all of the injuries suffered by guys like Fairley, on top of the suspension against Suh and things of that nature. Fluellen probably won't cost a lot, but if there's a chance for some starting competition, he'll likely be on his way out. It's good to know that he's still interested in being a backup if they want him around, though.
Free agent linebacker David Hawthorne is expected to visit the Detroit Lions on Tuesday. Hawthorne has spent his entire four-year career with the Seattle Seahawks and has been a key player over the past few seasons for the Seahawks.
This past season, Hawthorne had his third straight season with over 100 tackles with 115; plus he also had two sacks and three interceptions, with one being returned for a touchdown. For his career, Hawthorne has 350 tackles, seven interceptions and six sacks.
The Lions are looking at signing a linebacker this offseason just in case they are unable to keep veteran linebacker Stephen Tulloch. The New Orleans Saints are also interested in signing Hawthorne, and the two met this past week.
The Detroit Lions have announced on their official blog that the team has re-signed tackle Jeff Backus to a two-year contract. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Backus is a 12-year veteran of the team after being drafted in the first round of the 2001 draft. Backus has started 176 consecutive games for the Lions but suffered a torn bicep in the Lions' loss to the New Orleans Saints in the playoffs last season. Backus has already begun rehab on the injury.
Detroit had been rumored to have interest in former San Diego Chargers tackle Marcus McNeill who visited the team earlier this week but left Detroit without a contract. McNeill would have been a nice backup plan for the team had it not been able to come to terms with Backus.
The Detroit Lions have gone through free agency without a whole lot of news about one of their most important positions: the backup quarterback job. But they've now got things set square, according to Jim Thomas on Twitter, who says that the Lions have agreed to terms with Shaun Hill on a two-year deal.
Hill has been with the Lions over the past two seasons, since being traded by the San Francisco 49ers, and has been very solid in relief of Matthew Stafford, who some would call "injury prone." Hill started 10 games in 2010 when Stafford was going through multiple arm injuries, though he saw limited action in 2011 - something that Lions fans are just fine with. In 11 games with the Lions in 2010, Hill completed 61.8 percent of his passes for 2,686 yards and 16 touchdowns against 12 interceptions.
With Stafford's injury history, the Lions absolutely need to ensure they've got a backup, and Hill is regarded as one of the better backups in the league. He's not the kind of player who will always win a game on his own, but he's also not the kind of guy who will outright lose it for you, which is the biggest responsibility of a backup, to be sure. Hill had previously visited with the St. Louis Rams before deciding to stick with the Lions.
The Detroit Lions continue to prepare for life without Jeff Backus, if they are indeed forced to consider life without the 34-year old offensive tackle. On Friday, the Lions had free agent tackle Marcus McNeill in for a visit as a potential backup plan. McNeill told the Detroit Free Press that he would love to be a Lion, but that all depends on whether or not Backus returns.
Of course, they have Jeff Backus, and he's been a great pro for many years for them here. Of course I have issues, and it is a business here, so if they're going to part ways, I would love to come play left tackle for Detroit. But it is a business, so you have to wait for them to make decisions first, and I'm pretty sure they have a lot more commitments and time put in already with Jeff, so he'll probably be their first priority.
Detroit is still in negotiations with Backus, who is recovering from a torn biceps.
Free agent cornerback Jacob Lacey paid a visit to the Detroit Lions on Thursday and Friday. Lacey told the Detroit Free Press that the Lions were the leading candidate for his services. Of course, the Lions appear to be the only team interested in Lacey at this point.
Ain't nothing final yet, but I really like it around here from the city to the coaches to the facility. It's a great place and I wouldn't mind calling this home for next year.
I still want to consult with some of my people before I sign anything, but I could definitely call them the frontrunner.
Detroit is a little light at cornerback after losing Eric Wright to Tampa Bay in free agency.
Lacey was restricted free agent, but the Colts declined to make him an offer, releasing him to unrestricted free agency.
Washington Redskins free agent safety LaRon Landry, he of the comically large biceps, will visit the Detroit Lions, according to Jason Cole of Yahoo Sports. Detroit is one of four visits Landry will make along with New England, the New York Jets and a mystery team. Coles says that the Bears are also interested.
Landry visited the Patriots on Friday.
Landry would give the Lions a run-stopping specialist and a big hitter to pair with Louis Delmas. It would be a nice addition to Detroit's defense. However, there is a big asterisk with Landry's injury history.
Troubled by an Achillies tendon injury, Landry played in just eight games in 2011. He played in just nine games the year before that. Washington's doctors wanted him to have surgery but he refused.
Landry could be in for a sizable contract given the demand for safeties and a thin market.
The Detroit Lions made at least one blockbuster move following free agency, locking up wide receiver Calvin Johnson to a record-setting contract. It is no surprise that some of the lesser Lions roster moves may get overshadowed as a result of this. On Friday, a member of the 2011 Lions team signed elsewhere and will be heading East.
Aaron Wilson of Scout.com reports that quarterback Drew Stanton has signed a one-year contract with the New York Jets, worth $1.25 million. Whereas in 2011 Stanton acted as the backup to Matthew Stafford, in 2012 he will be supporting Jets starting quarterback Mark Sanchez, who just signed an extension that will keep him in the New Meadowlands for the next five years.
Stanton started three games for the Lions in 2010, throwing four touchdowns and three interceptions.
The unrestricted free agent said tonight he agreed to another one-year deal to remain a Lion. The contract hasn't been signed but should be Friday.
"I feel like I still have a lot to prove and, hopefully, I get that opportunity and help this team, hopefully, win a championship one day," Coleman said.
Coleman missed all of the 2011 season after suffering a fractured fibula and severe ankle sprain against the Dallas Cowboys in Week 4. He'll be entering his ninth season in the NFL; he spent three with the Falcons and four with the Jets where he had his most success in starting 50 of a total 64 games.
The Detroit Lions added their first fullback to the roster Thursday when they signed James Bryant, who last played defensive end for the BC Lions of the CFL.
On Wednesday, Bryant tweeted:
I just want to let everyone know what my new locker room will look like next season! Truly Blessed! From the #BCLions to the #DetroitLions http://lockerz.com/s/192463129
Sean Yuille, the managing editor of SB Nation Detroit, confirmed that Bryant finalized his contract Thursday.
Bryant began his career as a fullback at Miami before transferring to Louisville and finishing his collegiate career there. He is listed at 6-foot-2 and 256 pounds on NFLDraftScout.com. He was a highly-recruited linebacker prospect coming out of high school before switching to fullback in order to get more playing time. Bryant ran a 4.76 40-yard dash prior to the NFL Draft in 2009.
The Detroit Lions appear to have gotten hit with some manner of Free Agent Fever, considering the number of moves and visits they've been scheduling in the past few days. Now in addition to Titans linebacker Tim Shaw, the Lions will also be bringing in safety Oshiomogho Atogwe early next week.
Atogwe was recently released by the Redskins after an injury plagued season, but had a good career before that with the St. Louis Rams, where he earned a reputation as a ball hawk. He led the NFC in interceptions back in 2007 when he pulled in eight and also was a decent tackler for them, earning Rams defensive MVP in 2008 with 85 tackles and 5 INTs. He would add plenty of experience and ability to a Lions safety group that was troubled last season.
The Lions had shown interest in Atogwe a couple of years ago, not signing him only because he was asking for too much money at the time. His most recent contract was a five year, $26 million deal with the Redskins.
Detroit Lions linebacker Stephen Tulloch, who earned $3.2 million in a one year deal with Detroit last season, is looking for a substantial pay raise for 2012 in free agency. Cleveland's $42.5 million deal with D'Qwell Jackson seems to be the deal that Tulloch is basing his needs around, looking for a contract to the tone of six million dollars per year.
Tulloch had 111 tackles and three sacks from the MLB position with the Lions in 2011 after a similarly fruitful career in Tennessee, but might find it hard to find a team willing to almost double his salary for those services. He has reportedly been linked with the Philadelphia Eagles, who are in need of linebacker help this offseason. He's a good player, we'll find out if he's good enough to get anyone in the NFL to bite on his contract demands soon.
The Detroit Lions are making some noise in free agency this year, between hosting so many players and signing Calvin Johnson to one of the richest contracts in NFL history. They'll be hosting a less prestigious player next week according to FOX Sports' Aaron Wilson, linebacker Tim Shaw.
The Detroit Lions hosted former Dolphins and 49ers wide reciever/return specialist Ted Ginn on Thursday, and though Ginn appeared to have liked what he saw he did not leave with a contract in his hand. He did say that he liked the Lions and a signing could happen in the future if he doesn't like any of the other places he might visit in his free agency.
"I enjoyed myself here today," Ginn said. "A great group of coaches all the way around. As far as a commitment, it's just a little early right now. I'm going to see my options, but I like the Lions."
Ginn, originally drafted by the Miami Dolphins, has been used almost exclusively as a return specialist, where he has shone in his career so far. He indicated after leaving the 49ers that he wants to be seen as more of a receiver by the next team who picks him up. The Lions have a somewhat deep receiving unit so he wouldn't be anywhere near a No. one or two man on the squad, though.
Ginn caught 19 passes for 220 yards with the 49ers last season.
Two days of NFL free agency are in the books and the Lions have plans to host several players over the next few days. In addition to entertaining some offensive linemen to protect the golden armed Matthew Stafford and another potential weapon for him, the Lions will be looking to close up some holes on defense, particularly cornerback:
Lacey has started 27 games for the Colts over the last three seasons. Lacey, 24, had 72 tackles and one interception in 15 games with the Colts last season. He started 10 games at left corner in 2011.
Lacey is the only cornerback scheduled to visit the Lions for now, but I imagine that'll change as free agency progresses. The Lions could also very well be drafting a cornerback in the first round of the draft.
With free agency in full swing, the Detroit Lions are hosting a handful of players this week, hoping to lock a few up and shore up some holes on the roster. We already know OL Geoff Schwartz will be in Detroit on Friday, but throw in another offensive lineman to the recruiting list, according to the Detroit Lions:
Former Chargers left tackle Marcus McNeil is flying to Detroit Thursday and will visit the Lions’ practice facility in Allen Park Friday, according to a league source.
McNeil was released by the Chargers earlier this week due to his history with neck injuries and to clear cap space. He was a second-round draft pick in 2006 and has played in two Pro Bowls.
The Detroit Lions made it a point to get star wide receiver Calvin Johnson signed as soon as the season came to an end. It took a lot longer than many figured it would, but Johnson did have a year remaining on his rookie contract, so the team wasn't in any immediate danger of losing him. They ended up signing Johnson for eight years - through 2019, which is a little different from the initial reports.
Initially, it was said that Johnson was signed to a seven-year extension, which would imply that Johnson would play out 2012 on his rookie deal, but Tim Twentyman cleared things up on Twitter:
Lets be clear that this is a new 8-year deal through 2019. Johnson will not play out last year of rookie deal.— Tim Twentyman (@ttwentyman) March 14, 2012
That really does make sense, given just how productive Johnson is and the fact that his new deal is the richest in NFL history in regards to guaranteed dollars, with $60 million overshadowing the other marks handily. In getting so much guaranteed money, the Lions were able to give him less salary in 2012 so they can shift some cap around, saving around $9 million in space while still, as they put it: "paying the man."
The contract details for former Lions cornerback Eric Wright's new deal with Tampa Bay are in, and according to ESPN's Adam Schefter, he'll earn $37.5 million ($15.5 million guaranteed) over the next five years with the Buccaneers.
It's yet another expensive contract handed out by the Bucs, who have also inked prized free agent wide receiver Vincent Jackson and guard Carl Nicks to hefty deals, making Tampa Bay arguably the most active player in the early portion of free agency.
The departure of Wright means Detroit will have to address the secondary this offseason, but its an area they were expected to focus on with or without Wright in the fold.
Wright had 74 tackles and four interceptions for Detroit in 2011, his lone year with the Lions.
Ginn will visit the team on Wednesday or Thursday, and would seem to be a fit for the Lions as a fourth receiver. Additionally, Ginn is one of the fastest and most feared returners in the league. He returned two kicks for a score within a minute of each other during San Francisco's week one victory over Seattle in 2011.
Formerly the Dolphins top pick in the 2007 draft after an exciting career at Ohio State, Ginn was traded by Miami to San Francisco for a fourth round draft choice prior to the 2010 draft.
Signing superstar receiver Calvin Johnson to a seven-year, $132 million extension was a win in more ways than one for the Detroit Lions: it saves the team $9 million in cap space, according to a report.
The Lions, who had previously had to maneuver numerous other contracts just to get under the cap in time for the start of the new league year, will benefit in the short term from the new flexibility created. Under his previous deal, Johnson was slated to have a cap hit near $20 million for the 2012 year.
The team will announce the extension for Johnson at a Wednesday afternoon press conference, and the deal will make him the richest wide receiver in league history. He was a 2011 All-Pro selection and the NFL's leader in receiving yards with 1,681.
The recently-signed seven-year contract extension for Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson will be worth $132 million, including$60 million in guaranteed money, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter. That overall contract value marks the most expensive deal for a receiver in NFL history, and eclipses the fat extension given to Larry Fitzgerald by the Cardinals last offseason by over $10 million.
The deal will be officially announced later Wednesday at a press conference, but locking Johnson up is a major move for the franchise. He'll now be in a Lions uniform through the 2019 season, and the deal will likely afford the Lions some short term salary cap flexibility.
Johnson was picked with the number two overall selection by the Lions in the 2007 draft out of Georgia Tech.
The Detroit Lions have completed a mega move for the franchise, signing wide receiver Calvin Johnson to a seven-year contract extension that keeps him in Detroit through the 2019 season. The team will announce the deal at a 1:00 p.m. CST press conference on Wednesday.
Johnson, who was due to become a free agent after the 2012 season, led the NFL with 1,681 receiving yards in 2011, and added 96 catches and 16 touchdowns on his way to an All-Pro selection. The former number two overall pick has career totals of 366 receptions, 5,872 yards and 49 scores in his five years as a pro, all of which have been with Detroit.
The Lions reached the playoffs in 2011 for the first time in 12 seasons after finishing a turnaround season with a 10-6 record.
Day two of NFL free agency has begun, and former Lions cornerback Eric Wright will soon be a Tampa Bay Buccaneer, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter. The deal with be for five years, reports Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times. Financial terms of the deal have not yet been released.
Wright started all 16 games for the Lions in 2011 and registered 74 tackles and four interceptions. Detroit had interest in retaining him, and reports on the first day of free agency suggested the San Francisco 49ers would take a look at Wright as well.
Originally a 2007 second round pick of the Browns, Wright was signed by Detroit shortly after the 2011 NFL lockout was lifted and made an immediate contribution to an improved secondary. His departure means the Lions will continue to pursue secondary help throughout the offseason.
Hill has suggested in the past that he wants to return to his cozy backup job in Detroit, but an agreement has not been hammered out. Therefore, Hill has decided to test the waters a little bit to see what else is out there. According to Eric Edholm of Pro Football Weekly, Hill has a visit lined up with the St. Louis Rams this week.
Birkett still thinks Hill will re-sign with the Lions, but we shall see now.
The NFL free agency period began Tuesday afternoon. The Lions are not expected to be very active in the open market, except in re-signing their own players, but Detroit Free Press' Davie Birkett did tweet that the Lions will be hosting an offensive lineman on Friday:
Schwartz was a seventh round pick in the 2008 draft and played in all 32 games in his first two seasons. He missed all of last year with a hip injury, but is considered a pretty good and versatile offensive lineman that could be relatively cheap.
Free agent quarterback Drew Stanton, who has spent his four NFL seasons in Detroit, will be visiting the New York Jets to discuss becoming the Jets back up behind Mark Sanchez, according to Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News. Via Mehta:
Jets searching for No. 2 QB. Source tells me free agent Drew Stanton, who played 4 seasons w/ Lions, is visiting Jets in couple days. #nfl— Manish Mehta(@TheJetsStream) March 13, 2012
Stanton went on the record in the offseason saying that he'd like to go somewhere where he had the opportunity to become a quality back up. The Lions are expected to re-sign Shaun Hill to be Matthew Stafford's back up again this season. Stanton was inactive all of last season as the third-string quarterback behind Stafford and Hill.
The Lions have been in contact with both Wright and his agent in hopes of re-signing the free agent, but Detroit doesn't have a ton of money to spend this offseason. Wright, 26, started all 16 games for the Lions last season, registering 74 tackles and four interceptions.
The 49ers are apparently quite enamored with Wright and expected to make a push to bolster their secondary. Wright graduated from Archbishop Riordan High School in San Francisco, Calif.
Detroit is thin in the secondary and especially at the cornerback position, but they certainly can't afford to overpay for Wright.
The NFL Free Agent Period is set to start at 4 p.m. ET Tuesday, and there are several Detroit Lions players that are set to become unrestricted free agents. One of those players is linebacker Stephen Tulloch, who spoke with SiriusXM NFL radio hours before the deadline and said he's ready to test the market but is willing to return to Detroit if the situation is right.
"I’ll definitely look into it, man," Tulloch said. "I’ll definitely look into it. Like I said, the fans there have been great. The city’s awesome. It’s a football town, and they love their sports. They’ve been nothing but good to me since I’ve been there, and I definitely appreciate that.
"Like I said, we’ll find out come tomorrow if those plans still are there for me to head back to Detroit, but wherever it is, I’ll be looking forward to the challenge and the opportunity to continue to play football and the game that I love."
Last summer, Tulloch signed a one-year contract with the Lions after spending the previous five years with the Tennessee Titans, the team which drafted him in 2005. Tulloch is looking for a long-term deal and probably could get it from other teams like the Philadelphia Eagles and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The NFL's Free Agent period will at 4 p.m. ET on Tuesday, and starting at that time Detroit Lions will have a lot of decisions to make as about 20 players will become unrestricted free agents, while four other players will be restricted free agents.
Not only will the front office brass need to make decision about current players on the Lions roster, but they will also need to target potential players from other teams.
Thanks to our SB Nation blog friends from Pride Of Detroit, here's a list Lion players that will become unrestricted and restricted free agents come four o'clock who will either need to be resigned or replaced via free agency.
Unrestricted Free Agents
QB Shaun Hill, QB Drew Stanton, RB Kevin Smith, RB Maurice Morris, RB Jerome Harrison, WR Rashied Davis, WR Maurice Stovall, OT Jeff Backus, OG Leonard Davis, DT Andre Fluellen, LB Stephen Tulloch, LB Bobby Carpenter, LB Isaiah Ekejiuba, CB Eric Wright, CB Brandon McDonald, S Erik Coleman, S Chris Harris, P Ben Graham, LS Don Muhlbach
Restricted Free Agents
DE Cliff Avril
The NFL free agency market opens up for business on Tuesday at 4 p.m. ET and the Detroit Lions have several players they'd like to bring back that are currently not under contract. Two unrestricted free agents the Lions have expressed interest in re-signing are the backups for Matthew Stafford, Shaun Hill and Drew Stanton.
Over the last couple months, Hill has indicated on more than a couple occasions that he'd like to return to be Stafford's primary backup, but Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press is suggesting that Hill might test the waters a little bit before coming to an agreement with the Lions:
Of course, this could simply mean the Lions and Hill need a little extra time and Hill has no intention of listening to other teams, but they'll be allowed to try and entice him at that point, possibly driving up his price tag. If Hill is lured away from Detroit, does that mean Stanton will return as the backup or will the Lions decide to go after someone with more experience?
The Lions have released TE Will Heller. He was going to count more than $1 million against the cap next year.— Tim Twentyman (@ttwentyman) March 12, 2012
Heller, a nine-year veteran, has played in every game during the past three seasons for Detroit. His best season came in his first season with the Lions when he caught 29 passes for 296 yards and three touchdowns. This past season, Heller caught just six passes for 42 yards.
The Lions have been doing whatever they can to clear up salary cap space, including restructuring the deals of Matthew Stafford, Nate Burleson and Ndamukong Suh. Once free agency opens, Detroit is hoping to have enough cap space to fill a few crucial needs.
It was reported earlier that the Detroit Lions were going to put a tender on their free agent tackle Corey Hilliard, and according to DetroitLions.com the Lions finally did it Monday afternoon along with linebacker DeAndre Levy and defensive tackle Sammie Hill.
Levy is the big name of the group, getting 109 tackles and a sack for the Lions last season while starting all 16 games. He got the highest tender of the group, a second round tender that will pay him just a touch under two million dollars in 2012. He was originally a third round pick by the Lions in 2009.
Sammie Hill, originally a fourth rounder in 2009, had 24 tackles and a sack and a half playing DT for Detroit last season. His tender was a fourth rounder as well.
If any team wants to sign any of the three restricted free agents away from Detroit, they will have to offer a draft pick worth the amount of the tender given to the player.
The Detroit Lions are reportedly planning on placing a tender on their soon to be free agent tackle Corey Hilliard to keep him from becoming an unrestricted free agent. The 'low' tender will make Hilliard $1.2 million this season, a team would have to offer a draft pick similar to the sixth rounder that was originally used to pick him up in the draft if they wanted to sign him away from his current home in Detroit.
Hilliard played in every game for the Lions in 2011, though he only got the actual start in one game. He has started a total of five games with the Colts and Lions since being drafted by the New England Patriots back in 2007.
Meanwhile Maurice Stovall, he of one catch for eight yards with the Lions last season, is being allowed to hit the open market for free agency. He was mostly a special teams player for Detroit in 2011.
For more on the Detroit Lions, check out Pride Of Detroit. For more on the NFL's Free Agency period in general, you can head to the specialized free agency hub or just the regular NFL hub at sbnation.com/NFL.
The Detroit Lions had a bit of a salary cap issue with lots of big contracts flooding them this season after so many high draft picks under the old salary rules. Fortunately, a couple of players have re-structured their contracts to try and mitigate the problem a bit.
Both Matthew Stafford and WR Nate Burleson both restructured their deals, as reported by the Detroit Free Press, in order to help the Lions open some space up for once free agency hits. Ndamukong Suh helped as well, restructuring the last three years of his contract.
The Lions have a couple of needs that free agency would be helpful to fill, so the cap space they cleared will likely be put to good use. Cornerbacks and offensive tackle depth come to mind as possibilities.
The Detroit Lions applied the franchise tag to defensive end Cliff Avril, after failing to reach a long-term deal by the Monday afternoon deadline. In an interview on the Lions’ official web site, Avril found the positives in being tagged.
Honestly and truthfully – at the end of the day – I’m very, very fortunate to be franchised by an NFL team. I’m very blessed. That being said, being a business, you always want to do what’s best for you and your family.
He then noted that he would still like to work out a new contract with the Lions.
I just hope we can continue to negotiate and try to get something done.
The feeling is apparently mutual, as the Lions would like to lock up the 25-year old pass rusher. Avril led the team in 2011 with 11 sacks.
The Detroit Lions have been trying to get a deal done with defensive lineman Cliff Avril for weeks with no success, and ESPN's Adam Schefter reported early on Monday that they've taken the next step by slapping the franchise tag on Avril to keep him around until a contract can be decided upon. Avril will count about $10.6 million against the salary cap with the tag.
This is the first time that the Lions have franchise tagged a player since 2007, when defensive tackle Cory Redding received it. Avril already said before that he did not like the idea of being franchise tagged but with no contract coming before the franchise tag deadline hit, there wasn't much that he could do to prevent it, as the Lions wanted to keep their sack specialist around.
Avril had 11 sacks as part of the monstrous Detroit D-line last season.
Re-signing Avril was arguably the most important move for the Lions in free agency, so they can now turn their minds to other projects, as they have a bit more peace of mind with Avril essentially being forced to stick around at least a little while longer.
Teams are still waiting to find out what the official NFL salary cap number is for the 2012 season. The league has yet to release the official figure, but they are expected to any day now.
A recent report from Pro Football Talk estimated the cap number to be similar to the $120 million figure used in 2011.
The cap news comes as the Lions face several pressing free agent concerns. Linebacker Stephen Tulloch and offensive tackle Jeff Backus and defensive end Cliff Avril are among the team's most high profile unrestricted free agents. The Lions have reportedly been talking with representatives for each player, but there have been few indications of progress.
Free agency was the subject of the inaugural edition of Pride of Detroit's YouTube channel. Check it out here.
After spending his first five NFL seasons in Detroit and his collegiate career at Michigan State, Lions quarterback Drew Stanton appears ready to move on.
Stanton, the Lions third-string quarterback behind Matt Stafford and Shaun Hill, would like the opportunity to play and doesn't see that chance in Detroit with both Stafford and Hill likely returning. Via Tim Twentyman of DetroitLions.com:
"I want to establish myself as a quality back-up in this league and take that progression to become a starter in this league," he said Wednesday in a phone interview.
"I feel like I have a good foundation and I've put in the time and effort and know the game and know how to study it and know how to prepare that given the opportunity, I can be successful."
Stanton was inactive for all 16 games last season, but has started four games in his career with the Lions. He has completed 55.6-percent of his passes while throwing five touchdowns and nine interceptions in 12 appearances.
Despite starting all 17 games and recording 111 tackles in his first season with the Detroit Lions, middle linebacker Stephen Tulloch is not close to a deal with Detroit, according to Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.
Tulloch is set to become a free agent on March 13th and though the two sides are still talking and the Lions would like to resign Tulloch, no deal is in place. First, Detroit is hoping to extend Calvin Johnson with a long-term deal, in order to lock up the wide receiver and lower his cap hold to free up space to sign Tulloch and defensive end Cliff Avril.
The Lions may use the franchise tag on Avril, but will need to make their decision before the March 5th deadline.
The big free agency headlines for the Detroit Lions continue to revolve around DE Cliff Avril, and for good reason -- he was one of the biggest anchors of the defense last season. There's still other work to be done for the Lions in free agency though, and signing tackle Jeff Backus once again looks like it's one of the priorities.
As reported by the Detroit Free Press, the Lions met with Backus' agent, Pat Dye, during the NFL combine and there was productive talk regarding bringing him back for 2012.
“We met at the combine and had a positive discussion,” Dye said. “We’ll probably be reconvening here in the near future and we’ll see where it goes.”
Jeff clearly wants to stay with the Lions, he's never played for another team in his career and would probably like to finish his career there. He had two tough injuries last season after playing over 170 straight games for the Lions at LT, so the end might be in sight for the 34 year old.
"He’d love to be there," Dye said. "That’s the only place he’s been. He wants to see it through. At the same time we’ve got to evaluate all of his options and make the best decision for the balance of his career."
Backus has been playing tackle for the Lions for 11 years now and anchored the offensive line for the team that got the Lions into the playoffs last season for the first time in quite a while. Backus will hit free agency as a UFA if not signed by March 13.
The Detroit Lions really want Cliff Avril to remain in their jersey come the 2012 season; the star defensive lineman had 11 sacks in 2011 to lead their powerful line. Cliff Avril has said that he wants to remain a Lion as well, but he's also said that he doesn't want to play for them at a discount.
Time is starting to run a bit short for the Lions if they want to keep Cliff Avril around. If they don't either sign him or slap the franchise tag on Avril by March 5, he will hit free agency on March 13 and you can be sure there will be a lot of teams less frugal than the Lions knocking at his door to pick him up.
Avril has already stated that he does not want to be franchise tagged, so the Lions are in a bit of a tight spot with their salaries increasing. It's now a race against the clock, on March 5 the feeding frenzy will begin for what will be one of the biggest free agent names this side of Peyton Manning.
However, that does not preclude the possibility that the Lions will re-sign Palmer. Rather, it means that Palmer will no longer be a restricted free agent when free agency begins on March 13.
The move makes sense for the Lions, who will be up against the salary cap next season. They can't afford to tender a reserve linebacker at more than $1 million.
That certainly doesn't mean the Lions can't come to a free agent deal with Palmer for him to remain a Lion. Palmer knows the system and was very good on special teams last season.
It's not unlike the situation the Lions went through with running back Kevin Smith when they didn't tender him a contract offer last offseason.
The 25 year-old linebacker played primarily on special teams for the Lions in 2011, finishing the season with eight tackles. Palmer was signed by the Bills as an undrafted free agent after the 2009 draft. The Bills waived him in 2010, leading to the Lions' claim for him.
The Lions will also have decisions to make on fellow restricted free agents linebacker DeAndre Levy, defensive tackle Sammie Hill, and offensive tackle Corey Hilliard, all of whom are expected to be tendered offers.
For more on the Lions, head over to SB Nation's Detroit Lions blog, Pride Of Detroit.
While NFL free agency doesn't officially begin until next month, and Calvin Johnson will not be a free agent, the Lions are working hard to get one of the best wide receivers locked up for the foreseeable future. According to Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press, Megatron's agent will meet with the Lions on Saturday, hoping to hammer out a long-term deal:
"We’ll see where it goes, but we’ll certainly work toward trying to get it done and get it done quickly," Cook said. "Hopefully, we can get something done in the next few weeks."
Johnson is entering his final year of his rookie contract, which will hit the team's cap at about $22.5 million. The Lions are making headway in extending Johnson, but they also have to consider maintaining financial flexibility while doing so:
"We can handle Calvin's numbers - we have to," Mayhew said Friday morning at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianpolis. "Obviously, we have a lot more flexibility having more cap room, so we have a desire to get that done. But we have a way to handle his number."
That number ultimately may very well make him the highest paid receiver in the NFL, but Lions head coach Jim Schwartz wants everyone to understand that it's not as simple as throwing a lot of money at Johnson despite both sides wanting the same end result:
"We still have a long way to go before we're in that situation, but Calvin is important to us," Schwartz said. "We talked about a couple of guys being in there that are important to us. Calvin is obviously important to us, but it's not as easy as just saying we want him around, and he wants to be around. There's a lot more to it. Hopefully, when it's all said and done he'll be a Lion for life."
For more on the Lions, head over to SB Nation's Detroit Lions blog, Pride Of Detroit.
The Detroit Lions may not be big players for high-price free agents like defensive end Mario Williams or running back Matt Forte if they become available, but general manager Martin Mayhew said Thursday they do plan on being active during the offseason, mainly with their own free agents.
"For us, this year, we don't anticipate being in the top part of free agency market, but we do plan on being active and trying to find value there," Mayhew said in an interview with Sirius XM NFL Radio. "We want to get our own guys back. Our left tackle is a free agent, our starting cornerback is a free agent, our mike linebacker -- the quarterback of our defense -- is a free agent, and obviously Cliff Avril can be free also. Our goal is to get those guys back then look around and see if we can get some value out there in the market."
Currently, Mayhew is in Indianapolis for the NFL Draft Combine, a place where Detroit found All-Pro wide receiver Calvin Johnson, who's another player that Mayhew would like to spend money on.
"Calvin has still got a year left on his deal. It would be great to get something done with him as well. Both those guys we plan on having around."
Mayhew said he'd like to make sure that Avril gets a long-term deal done too.
For more on the Lions offseason, head over to the SB Nation blog Pride Of Detroit.
Cliff Avril, a free agent defensive end who played for the Detroit Lions last season, is unhappy with the possibility that the Lions will use the franchise tag on him if they cannot agree on a long-term deal, according to the Detroit Free Press.
"There's a lot of different possibilities, and that's one of the possibilities -- not showing up," Avril said of missing off-season workouts and training camp. "But we don't know. That's not the plan, obviously. But there's a lot of different possibilities, and that's definitely one of them."
Though Lions GM Martin Mayhew has publicly stated that he doesn't plan to use the franchise tag on Avril, the Detroit Free Press reported Friday that Detroit is likely to use the tag in the event that the two side cannot come to terms. Via Detroit Free Press:
While two people familiar with the negotiations stopped short of saying Avril definitely will be tagged, both said that's the likely outcome if the two sides don't agree on a long-term deal before March 5, the deadline for applying the tag.
Avril, a four-year veteran, recorded a career-high 11 sacks last season to along with six forced fumbles. He would prefer a long-term contract from Detroit, as opposed to the franchise tender which is a one-year deal worth roughly $11 million. Via Detroit Free Press:
"I don't want to be franchised," Avril said. "That's basically what I got last year. The tender was basically the same thing. I just want security and longevity."
For more on the Lions offseason, head over to the SB Nation blog Pride Of Detroit.
Monday is the first day for NFL teams to lay the "franchise tag" on players, which essentially gives the team a guaranteed one-year contract for any one player that they want. That usually comes in handy for free agency when there is a contract dispute going on, keeping unrestricted free agents away from other teams that might want to snatch them up in free agency.
Cliff Avril's agent has already admitted that talks between him and the Detroit Lions are moving very slowly. After a brilliant year playing end on their powerful defensive line, the Lions will probably need to keep Avril away from the ravenous maw of free agency where there will be plenty of teams very interested in his services. SB Nation believes that Cliff Avril is almost a lock to be the recipient of the Franchise Tag from Detroit.
He won't be happy with the franchise tag but he should be prepared to get it. The Lions can't let him leave and he would break the bank on the open market so franchising him makes the most sense to give both sides enough time to work out a deal.
Avril had a career year in 2011, putting 11 sacks on the board and playing as arguably the most consistent player on one of the best defensive lines in the entire NFL. It's easy to see why the Lions would make getting him back on the team the number one priority; the question will be 'Is the price right for both Detroit and Avril?' He's already stated that he doesn't believe in "hometown discounts," so there's going be a hefty paycheck in Avril's future no matter what.
Detroit Lions defensive assistant coach Don Clemons is reportedly ready to retire after 27 years with the franchise in various roles on the sidelines. This news comes a couple of weeks after another defensive coach, Brandon Fisher left the staff to join his father Jeff Fisher for his new gig with the St. Louis Rams.
According to Tim Twentyman, Clemons, 58 is ready to let the next generation of coaches get to work for the Lions.
"Well, Dick Modzelewski, who I worked with when I first started here, he had played and coached for a long time and he retired the third or fourth year I was here and I asked him, ‘Dick, what are you retiring for?' and he said, ‘You just know, and when it comes you just look around at the people and know its time to let someone else do it.'"
After 35 years coaching, Clemons said he knew it was that time.
Clemons has been through the good, the bad and the ugly in his long tenure with the Lions. As Pride of Detroit points out this could apply to all of the coaches he worked under during his 27 years, as well.
Clemons, who is 58 years old, was with the Lions for an astounding 27 years. This means he was with the Lions while they had nine (!) different head coaches. He worked under Darryl Rodgers, Wayne Fontes, Bobby Ross, Gary Moeller, Marty Mornhinweg, Steve Mariucci, Dick Jauron, Rod Marinelli and Jim Schwartz from 1985-2011.
The Detroit Lions recently learned that there wouldn't be any kind of hometown discount when it comes to re-signing defensive end Cliff Avril (and that there are teams kind-of/sort-of looking into acquiring Avril in free agency), but they are definitely working on inking him to a new deal, regardless. According to the Washington Post, Avril's agent, Brian Mackler, says that talks are moving "very slowly" with the Lions.
At least they're talking at all, and not fighting over said hometown discount. Also of note from the piece is the fact that Avril doesn't want the franchise tag used on him. He wants to stay in Detroit and sign a long term contract, but it has to be at the right price. The key is both of those - the security of the multiple years and the money. Unfortunately for Avril, the Detroit Free Press is reporting that the Lions are willing to use the tag if it comes down to it.
While two people familiar with the negotiations stopped short of saying Avril definitely will be tagged, both said that's the likely outcome if the two sides don't agree on a long-term deal before March 5, the deadline for applying the tag.
Monday marks the first day the team can designate their franchise player. It seemed likely that the Lions would franchise Avril if they couldn't sign him to a long term deal even before this report. If the Lions did franchise him, he'd be due something along the lines of $10.6 million next season, the average of the top-five salaries at the defensive end position.
The Detroit Lions effectively re-signed all of their coaching staff and have turned their attention to their pending free agents on the roster. One of those pending free agents is defensive end Cliff Avril, who had a great season in 2011 and, apparently, is looking forward to cashing in on that great season. That being said, Avril wants to cash in on said success by re-signing with the Lions and not another team, according to the Detroit Free Press.
That being said, Avril is not a believer in hometown discounts, not by a long shot, he told SiriusXM NFL Radio on Friday. Avril says that he wants to be paid for what he's done for the team, which is helping them grow ... in other words, Avril thinks (correctly) that he had a big part in the team making the playoffs for the first time in a long time, and wants to be paid accordingly.
There's no such thing as a hometown discount in the NFL," he said. "Once you can't play anymore, they're going to let you go, so you definitely have to strike gold when you can. "That said, if they and another team present the same thing, I'd definitely stay with the Lions."
While the "no such thing as a hometown discount," portion is plenty for a good headline, there was a gem at the end of the article in which Avril suggested that most teams don't feel he'll hit free agency at all, but that a few have called to "express interest." It's seemingly harmless, until you remember that free agency hasn't officially begun and Avril can only talk to the Lions about a potential deal.
In another piece from the Detroit Free Press, Avril clarifies his statements, though:
"No other teams, per se, like general managers or anybody has called me or anything like that," Avril told the Free Press. "But I know a lot of guys that I've played with or guys that have seen me play have told me that their coaches have brought me up in a sense of, ‘Dang, that guy can play; wouldn't mind having him-type thing.' Never official-type things or anything like that."
That's the best way to do away with it all, as that kind of thing likely happens a lot in the NFL. Players will joke around about it, especially at, say, the Pro Bowl. There's a good chance Avril was just trying to scare the Lions a little bit, not realizing the tampering bit in a white lie, and there's just as good a chance that the above quote is perfectly true. Either way, Avril avoided getting some other teams in trouble with a tampering charge, as NFL spokesman Greg Aiello suggests the league doesn't plan to pursue said charge.
In an hour-long teleconference with season-ticket holders, Detroit Lions team president Tom Lewand said that Detroit was unlikely to make many headline-grabbing free agent signings this off-season.
According to the Detroit Free Press, Lewand said,
I don’t foresee us being in a position to go out and make a lot of aggressive, quote-unquote, marquee free-agent moves. That’s not what we’ve ever been about.
Lewand went on to discuss the last big free agent moves the Lions made, in 2010 when they signed Kyle Vanden Bosch and Nate Burleson. He noted that both players have been valuable to the Lions' resurgence, but quickly tempered expectations that more top-flight free agents were on the way.
But we’re in a different stage right now. We’ve got to focus on keeping the nucleus of players together that we have, and we’ve got a few of our own free agents out there that are challenges for us that we’d like to have back.
The Lions finished the 2011 regular season 10-6, second only to Green Bay in the NFC North.
In a year where the Lions had an absolutely beastly defensive line, Avril was arguably the biggest shining star on it, ending the year with 38 tackles and a whopping 11 sacks, along with six forced fumbles and even an interception. Since being drafted in 2008, Avril has improved every year and will likely continue to do so as he continues to grow as a football player -- he is only 25 years old, after all.
There is, of course, still a chance that Avril is going to get the franchise tag slapped on him by the Lions, though no real news positive or negative has come out in that regard in a while.
The rest of the free agent class for Detroit is mostly role players like backup QB Shaun Hill -- who is very likely to come back and continue to be Matthew Stafford's number two -- and OT Jeff Backus, who is likely to be pushed out by a new tackle signing in the NFL draft if they decide to bolster the offensive line. With a whopping 20 UFA's from the Lions out there, it won't be surprising to see a large handful being brought back into Detroit to try and build upon the strong year that the team had in 2011.
The Detroit Lions announced the hiring of Marcus Robertson as a defensive assistant coach and secondary coach. Robertson, a longtime Tennessee Titans safety, was the Titans' main secondary coach the last three seasons.
The defensive assistant spot opened up on the coaching staff when Brandon Fisher followed his father Jeff to St. Louis to help with the Rams. The remainder of the Lions' coaching staff is set to return, giving Detroit a decided edge in continuity heading into next season.
In another move with the coaching staff, Detroit switched the job title of Tim Walton, the team's main secondary coach. He is now the secondary coach and the third down package coach, meaning he will be in charge of the Lions' third down packages in 2012.
From Tim Twentyman at the Lions' official website:
"Tim is a valuable member of our staff and we're increasing the scope of his duties," Schwartz said. "Third down defense is a very important part of football."
Matthew Stafford finally cemented that he's the quarterback of the future for the Detroit Lions this season during a 5,000 yard passing campaign, but as the Chicago Bears learned this season, every star quarterback needs a dependable backup behind him. Chicago didn't have one and it cost a 7-3 team a shot at the playoffs. The Lions have a good looking veteran backup in Shaun Hill, and it appears both sides want to work out a deal to bring Hill, a free agent, back to Detroit on another contract.
From the Detroit Free-Press:
The Lions have told Hill, his representatives and others that they want him back as the primary backup to Matthew Stafford. Hill also wants to return to Detroit -- and might even take a slight discount to do so.
The 32-year old Hill made 10 starts in 2010 when Stafford missed the majority of the season with a shoulder injury. Hill made only two appearances for Detroit this past season.
The Detroit Lions have had a quiet offseason since getting their coaching staff all signed for next season. There are some free agents that need to be addressed, especially with some question marks at the running back position. Jahvid Best isn't a free agent, but his status for next season is still up in the air following multiple concussions in 2011. To replace him, the team signed Kevin Smith, who spent the previous season with the team.
Smith, to his credit, played very well off the street. He played seven games and had four starts, with 72 carries and 356 yards and four touchdowns. He also had three touchdowns through the air and just under 200 yards receiving. MLive.com reported on Thursday that Smith wants to re-sign with the team, and that he doesn't even really consider himself a free agent:
"In every interview that I've done, even though I'm a free agent, I've referred to the team and me as us," Smith said. "I'm on the Lions roster in my opinion until I'm not on the Lions roster. That says it all."
Other teams might be interested in Smith, seeing as how he's still just 25. The Lions might not re-sign him though, providing Best can return, as they're expecting to have Mikel Leshoure in the backfield. Leshoure was a second-round pick last season but went down with an injury in the preseason and missed the entirety of the season.
Still, it's good to know the Lions have some options available, especially options that are so eager to play for them.
The Detroit Lions have been busy re-signing their coaching staff this offseason, giving all three of their coordinators new deals shortly after being eliminated from the NFL Playoffs. They received those extensions because of said NFL Playoffs, and the fact that the Lions made their first appearance in said postseason in about a decade. According to MLive.com, the Lions agreed to terms on a new deal with receivers coach Shawn Jefferson on Friday.
That means all of their coaches from the 2011 season that saw the Lions start 5-0 and make themselves a serious threat in the postseason are under contract for 2012. This likely means the team will do their best to retain all of the free agents they can, because from top to bottom, they believe in what they are doing and what they were able to do this past season.
As the report suggests, the Lions will now move on to pursue a new contract with head coach Jim Schwartz. He's got one more year remaining on the four-year contract he signed when he joined the team and spurred this huge turn-around. The team would like to lock him up, probably to add-on another three years or so. Schwartz hasn't always been perfect, but if there's one thing that's clear, it's that the players have totally bought in and play well under him, and that's what matters.
If things go according to plan for Detroit Lions general manager Martin Mayhew, the team will have signed all of its coaching staff to extensions, work out a new deal with pending free agent Cliff Avril, re-sign superstar wide receiver Calvin Johnson and, apparently, stick to the same drafting formula of selecting the best player overall on the draft board. According to mlive.com, the Lions will stick with the "best player available" (BPA) strategy come draft time.
Most wondered if the Lions would continue to do that, now that the team is in the playoffs with fewer needs than in previous years. Having made the playoffs for the first time since 1999, the Lions had players step up at multiple positions on both sides of the ball. They've got strong linebackers, defensive linemen, receivers and a quarterback, among other things.
In 2011, the team drafted Nick Fairley with their first-round pick, despite already having what appeared to be a, for lack of a better term, monster defensive line. They then drafted Titus Young very high despite having Calvin Johnson. This followed the BPA strategy, and it's essentially worked out well for the Lions. But again, now their needs aren't as broad, so is it really smart to take the BPA strategy?
Sure, of course it is - because the strategy itself isn't so simple. There's always some deviation, to an extent. For instance, the Lions aren't going to draft a quarterback no matter who is available, but said QB might be the best player available at the time. The draft board ranks all players, sure, but before the fact, plenty of players at plenty of positions will be ruled out. In other words, it's probably good news that the Lions are sticking to their strategy after finally making it back to the playoffs.
After news that the Detroit Lions had extended all of Scott Linehan, Gunther Cunningham and Danny Crossman on Thursday, it looks like the team is going to focus on getting its head coach, Jim Schwartz, signed to an extension. According to mlive.com, Martin Mayhew, Detroit's general manager, said that the team wants to give Schwartz an extension beyond the 2012 season.
"We plan to try working on that in the next couple of weeks or so," Mayhew said.
It appears Detroit will make every effort to give Schwartz, 45-years old, a new contract based on Mayhew's comments earlier today.
Schwartz has led the Lions to a better record in each of his seasons with the team. They were 2-14 after he took over in his first season, then 6-10 in 2010, but this season has made their first playoff appearance since 1999, finishing with a 10-6 record, which included a 5-0 start to the season. They lost in the opening round, but Schwartz has clearly taken this team in a good direction.
He has one year left on his contract.
The Detroit Lions are gearing up for an important offseason, which has already seen all three of the major coordinators receive contract extensions and general manager Martin Mayhew confirm that the team is working on new contracts for wide receiver Calvin Johnson and defensive lineman Cliff Avril. Now, the team is getting ready for training camp by signing nine players to 2012 future contracts. Below are the players, from the Detroit Lions official website:
Ugo Chinasa, DE, Oklahoma State
Dan Gerberry, C, Ball State
Marcus Harris, WR, Murray State
Nate Hughes, WR, Alcorn State
Jacques McClendon, G, Tennessee
Slade Norris, LB, Oregon State
Nathan Overbay, TE, Eastern Washington
Terrence Toliver, WR, LSU
Ross Weaver, DB, Michigan State
Signing these players to future contracts makes them eligible for offseason workouts and the like. Things like OTAs, and training camps can't really progress unless a player is signed to a "future" contract. These are all practice squad players who the team will give a chance to compete for the full roster, but ultimately will likely end up on the practice squad again come time for roster cuts.
The Detroit Lions made the playoffs for the first time in over a decade, and looked really good doing it. Despite a loss in the Wild Card round, confidence has to be riding at an all-time high. While the organization is now going to focus on the contracts of Cliff Avril and Calvin Johnson, some other moves were made very recently that show the team's dedication to continuing their winning ways.
Offensive coordinator Scott Linehan, defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham and special teams coordinator Danny Crossman all received contract extensions, according to general manager Martin Mayhew. All three coordinators did a great job in making sure the team was prepared for every situation. There were never really points in which the Lions were completely blind-sided and helpless this past season, a big difference in comparison to season's past.
Though they did lose games, they were still generally in them. Cunningham's defense was good at getting to the quarterback and forcing offenses off of the field. The special teams was vastly improved, while the offense improved in leaps and bounds. Despite a myriad of injuries at running back, quarterback Matthew Stafford had a career year and established the Lions as a truly high-flying offense, not quite on par with but in the company of teams like the Green Bay Packers and Detroit Lions.
The Detroit Lions weren't able to make waves in the 2012 NFL Playoffs, but they made it to the postseason for the first time in a long time. Naturally, it can only be a good thing for them to retain as many players as possible from this season's team, considering they're now established as winners, and continuity is always required for a strong football team. Some important players are coming up on the end of their contracts pretty soon, and the Lions need to get them locked up.
According to mlive.com, Lions general manager Martin Mayhew is going to make wide receiver Calvin Johnson and defensive end Cliff Avril his top priorities to sign during the offseason. Mayhew said a deal for Johnson doesn't necessarily need to get done this offseason, but it's a great opportunity to get started. His contract is up after next season, so it makes sense to start working on something now.
While many thought the franchise tag might be an option for Avril, Mayhew noted that the team was unlikely to do that. He said that there were no plans to do so, but you never know what might happen. With Avril already saying he wanted to return to the Lions, it's hard to see the two sides getting together on a long term agreement. It will be interesting to see how much he makes, considering the cost of some of the other guys on the line. Avril arguably out-played them all, while Ndamukong Suh is making $9.25 million, Kyle Vanden Bosch is making $5 million and Corey Williams is making slightly less at $4.9 million in 2012.
The Detroit Lions ended the season in strong fashion before losing to the New Orleans Saints in the NFC playoffs. On the strength of young players selected in the past few NFL drafts, the Lions finally started to see that talent come together on the field making for a bright future.
The Lions 2011 draft class was largely based on talent over need, and those need areas in the defensive backfield and offensive line in particular,showed up as weaknesses at times during the season. The draft class did show promise, though when the players could make their way onto the field. ESPN's Mel Kiper re-graded the 2011 draft based on how this past season went, and the Lions didn't fare as well in hindsight as they right after taking talent on draft day. Here's what Kiper had to say.
Post-draft grade: A-
Summary: The Lions did incredibly well when it came to drafting value based on my rankings, but I had them at only a C-plus for need. At the time, I wondered whether the fact that they didn't get a cornerback, an offensive lineman or a linebacker would be an issue. The amazing thing is that, even though everybody significant in the class got hurt, this draft comes out looking not too bad, even in the short term. Nick Fairley had surgery in August but showed late in the season that he could become an impact player. Titus Young also was dinged early but managed 48 catches and more than 600 yards. Young has a really bright future. Mikel Leshoure's injury was really a shame, and you hope he can come back strong in 2012. And that's really it for the Lions. They can't live up to the post-draft grade, but at least there is plenty of promise, as it looks as if they'll get two impact players out of it despite the bad luck early.
New grade: B
That seems fair, although with those injury issues an "incomplete" grade may be more appropriate. Regardless it will be exciting to see how the rookies this season impact the Lions as they move forward.
One of the longest tenured Lions may have seen his Detroit career come to an end with Saturday night's loss tot he New Orleans Saints. Jeff Backus, who has toiled in Detroit since being a first round selection in 2001 by the club, tore his bicep muscle and will likely miss a significant amount of time according to sources:
Schwartz: Backus was scheduled for surgery today. He's going to miss "a significant portion of time" - @freeplions via Twitter
Backus is a free agent after this season, so his injury and contract situation could see the Lions looking elsewhere to replace him if he is going to miss the start of the season. Backus has provided critical depth on this year's team, but Detroit could look for a younger tackle to add to the club via the draft at a cheaper price since Backus is a veteran lineman that would fetch a higher price in free agency.
The Lions' loss to the New Orleans Saints wasn't the only pain Backus was dealing with after the game since he was forced to leave the field early after tearing a bicep muscle.
"A guy made an inside move and I went to hook him with my arm and my bicep popped," Backus said. "Simple. I knew right when it happened what happened. With the experience with my (pectoral), I knew what it felt to tear a muscle and it was the exact same sensation."
Could that be the way the lineman's career ends with the Lions? Backus is a free agent and after the offensive line issues this season, the team may make his spot in the starting lineup open for competition. While that may lead Backus to look elsewhere for a more secure role, Pride of Detroit still expects him to return next season.
6. Jeff Backus - He will be a free agent this year. I expect him to return to the Lions but he isn't a lock to start. The Lions may bring in a young tackle through the draft or free agency. Unless they have decided Fox is ready. Backus will compete for his job. The lack luster performance of the O line as a season cannot go ignored again. Many jobs will be up for grabs.
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