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Defensive end Cliff Avril, the only remaining restricted free agent for the Detroit Lions, signed his one-year tender on Thursday morning. Avril had put off signing the tender until now likely because Thursday is expected to be the first day that free agents can practice. Even if he had been under contract earlier, he would not have been able to do much other than watch practice, so it wasn't necessary to officially sign until Thursday.
Avril was hoping to get a long-term deal from the Lions, but for the time being he will go forward with the one-year tender. It's expected the Lions and Avril will negotiate a long-term deal at some point in the future, but there's no timetable for an extension to be worked out.
In any case, Avril is happy to be back with the Lions. He tweeted this on Thursday:
I'm back at it... Feels good to be back in the lockerroom...
The move to re-sign Avril has not been officially announced yet, likely because the Lions are deciding which player will be released to make room for Avril on the roster.
After the Detroit Lions signed linebackers Justin Durant and Stephen Tulloch last week, it seemed unlikely that Bobby Carpenter would be re-signed. Earlier in the offseason it looked like Carpenter could compete for one of the starting spots, but with the moves made last week the chances of that happening severely decreased.
Although the starting spots at linebacker do appear to be locked down for the Lions, Carpenter has decided to return to the team after all. Dave Birkett reports that Carpenter and the Lions have agreed to a deal and that Carpenter will officially re-sign on Wednesday.
Getting Carpenter back is an important move for depth at linebacker. He joined the team midway through last season and ended up starting two games. He played very well during the Lions' four-game winning streak, and this year he will be there in case a starter goes down with an injury.
Between Carpenter, Durant, Tulloch, DeAndre Levy, Ashlee Palmer, Doug Hogue and Isaiah Ekejiuba, there is a lot of talent at linebacker. What once was a position of great need is now really a strength for the Lions.
Before the NFL lockout began back in March, the Detroit Lions tendered an offer to defensive end Turk McBride, who was considered a restricted free agent at the time. Under the rules of the new collective bargaining agreement, McBride is now considered an unrestricted free agent, which allows him to freely sign with any team he wants. He used that freedom to agree to a deal with the New Orleans Saints on Sunday, according to CBS Sports' Larry Holder.
The Lions have pretty good depth at defensive end with Kyle Vanden Bosch, Lawrence Jackson and restricted free agent Cliff Avril, but it's unfortunate that they lost McBride He joined the Lions from Kansas City with defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham in 2009 and had 33 tackles, five sacks and three forced fumbles last season. He made eight starts in 15 games and showed a lot of promise going forward.
With McBride departing for New Orleans, it's important that the Lions get Avril re-signed. He is a restricted free agent, so there isn't a risk of losing him, but it would be nice if a deal could be worked out soon. He has a one-year tender on the table, but Avril wants a long-term deal. I think the Lions want to sign him to a long-term deal as well, but they have been busy with other things this past week.
Even if Avril signed his tender right now he wouldn't be able to practice until Thursday, so the hope is something will be worked out by then.
This move likely means the Lions are done addressing their back seven. They signed linebacker Stephen Tulloch Sunday morning and added linebacker Justin Durant earlier in the week. They also signed cornerback Eric Wright, who is expected to be one of the starters at the position along with Houston.
Although the cornerback position doesn't have a superstar like Nnamdi Asomugha, it does have some talent. In addition to Houston and Wright, the Lions have Aaron Berry, Alphonso Smith, Nathan Vasher, Brandon McDonald and Maurice Leggett. There is enough talent that the Lions should be able to get by with their secondary, especially considering how good the front seven is for them.
Really the only moves the Lions now need to make going forward are re-signing defensive ends Cliff Avril and Turk McBride. They also might re-sign linebacker Bobby Carpenter, but other than that they are in good shape after an excellent week of free agency.
In a press release sent out Friday night, the Detroit Lions announced that they have re-signed many of their unrestricted, restricted and exclusive-rights free agents. Some of these moves were already known about before Friday, but others were kept under wraps until now.
Below is a list of the players that have been re-signed.
The Lions also confirmed that wide receiver Bryant Johnson and linebacker Jordon Dizon have been released. Those moves leaked out earlier in the week and came as no surprise since the Lions were able to shed some salary and create some cap space by getting rid of them.
In addition to these moves, the Lions confirmed the signings of some free agents from other teams. You can check out those moves in another StoryStream.
UPDATE: The Brandon McDonald signing was officially announced on Saturday.
At 4 p.m. on Thursday NFL teams were allowed to start releasing their players. The Detroit Lions have either not yet made any moves or have not yet announced them, but both wide receiver Bryant Johnson and linebacker Jordon Dizon are set to be cut by the team. We found out about Johnson's time being up in Detroit earlier in the week, and Jason La Canfora broke the news about Dizon on Thursday.
Dizon being let go doesn't come as much of a surprise. At the beginning of this offseason Lions general manager Martin Mayhew said it was unlikely Dizon would be back, and it looks as though he is sticking with his decision to let him go.
Dizon seemed to be improving last preseason, but that was before he suffered a serious knee injury. It kept him out all last year, and the Lions have decided to simply let him go rather than see if he can come back from the injury.
As of right now Johnson and Dizon are the only two Lions players expected to be cut.
The Detroit Lions continued to work on re-signing some of their free agents on Wednesday by getting deals agreed to with quarterback Drew Stanton and safety John Wendling. Stanton's deal is for one year, according to Adam Schefter. Wendling's contract is three years long and is worth a total of $2.75 million (the cap hit for 2011 is $1.3 million).
Back when Stanton was considered a restricted free agent before the lockout the Lions tendered him an offer, indicating they wanted him to return. He became an unrestricted free agent under the new CBA and could have signed anywhere in the league, but he decided to stick with the Lions. He and Shaun Hill will compete this camp and preseason to be Matthew Stafford's backup at QB.
Wendling is returning mainly because of his excellent special teams play. While he does provide extra depth at safety, the main reason the Lions wanted to bring him back is for his work on special teams.
The Lions and kicker Dave Rayner have agreed to terms on a one-year deal that will keep the former Michigan State Spartan in Detroit. Rayner can't officially re-sign until Friday at 6 p.m. (ET), but he has agreed to return to the Lions.
Earlier in the offseason when Rayner was considered a restricted free agent the Lions tendered him a qualifying offer. That indicated they wanted him back, but since Rayner became an unrestricted free agent under the new CBA, it wasn't a guarantee that he would return.
In the end, Rayner did generate interest from the St. Louis Rams and some other teams, but no offers that came his way were good enough to sway him away from re-signing with the Lions.
By returning to Detroit, Rayner is going into training camp to battle for the starting kicker job with Jason Hanson. Hanson is returning from a season-ending injury that gave Rayner a chance to show off his skills at the end of last year. He played quite well, and now he will look to win the job away from Hanson, who has been the Lions' kicker since 1992.
Since the NFL lockout ended on Monday, most Detroit Lions news has revolved around undrafted free agent signings. Fans have been waiting to hear about moves involving players already on the team or players that were on the team last season, and they were especially waiting to hear about who will be cut.
The Detroit Lions will release receiver Bryant Johnson to create much-needed salary-cap space when those transactions are allowed Thursday, a person with knowledge of the decision said.
Johnson is set to make $3.2 million next season, so this is not a surprise in the least. Most Lions fans expected Johnson to not be brought back after Titus Young was drafted, and with the salary cap returning, this is a move that simply makes sense to create some added room.
While Johnson appears to be on his way out, cornerback Brandon McDonald is getting ready to re-sign with the team. He was claimed off waivers toward the end of last season, and the Lions want to bring him back for 2011.
Before the NFL lockout began, the Detroit Lions tendered a number of players that were considered restricted free agents under the rules of the old collective bargaining agreement. Under the new CBA, most of these players are now unrestricted free agents, meaning the tenders no longer have any purpose other than to indicate which players the Lions want to bring back.
We have already examined the Lions players who are still restricted free agents, so now let's take a look at the ones who are unrestricted:
QB Drew Stanton - The Lions tendered him when he was considered restricted, so they made it known they want him back. Whether or not he will actually re-sign will depend largely on if Stanton can find any opportunities elsewhere. The expectation is for him to test the free agent waters before deciding anything. He could certainly be back, but if a better opportunity arises he could leave Detroit.
WR Brian Clark - He retired earlier in the offseason.
C Dylan Gandy - The Lions tendered him when he was restricted, so it appears they want to re-sign him.
DE Turk McBride - The Lions tendered him when he was restricted, so it appears they want to re-sign him.
LB Bobby Carpenter - The Lions tendered him when he was restricted, so it appears they want to re-sign him.
LB Vinny Ciurciu - He wasn't considered a restricted free agent to begin with, so there hasn't been any indication if the Lions will re-sign him or not.
LB Landon Johnson - Like Ciurciu, Johnson wasn't considered a restricted free agent to begin with, so there hasn't been any indication if the Lions will re-sign him or not.
CB Chris Houston - The Lions tendered him when he was restricted, and if they can they will re-sign him. Houston hasn't committed to returning by any means, though.
CB Tye Hill - He was not tendered when he was considered restricted, so it doesn't appear the Lions want to re-sign him.
CB Brandon McDonald - He was not tendered when he was considered restricted, so it doesn't appear the Lions want to re-sign him.
S C.C. Brown - It's unlikely the Lions will bring Brown back.
S John Wendling - The Lions tendered him when he was restricted, so it appears they want to re-sign him.
K Dave Rayner - The Lions tendered him when he was restricted, so it appears they want to re-sign him.
With the NFL lockout finally over, the madness of NFL free agency is finally set to begin. Starting at 10 a.m. (ET) on Tuesday, teams from around the league will be able to start negotiating with free agents. No signings of free agents can actually be made until 6 p.m. (ET) on Friday, but plenty of agreements will be in place well before the end of the week.
The Detroit Lions have quite a few free agents, and first we will take a look at the ones that are considered restricted. It's important to note that under the new collective bargaining agreement, only players with less than four years of service that received qualifying offers are given restricted status. That is why only three Lions players are currently considered restricted free agents:
FB Jerome Felton - The Lions tendered him at the original-round level, so they would receive a fifth-round pick if Felton ends up signing with another team and they don't match the offer. Earlier in the offseason Felton made it clear he wants to play more or go elsewhere, but no matter what happens the Lions will have the right to match any offer that comes his way.
DE Cliff Avril - If another team were to sign Avril and the Lions declined to match the offer, Detroit would receive a first-round pick. That is the highest level a restricted free agent can be tendered at, and the Lions applied it to Avril since they want to bring him back. Avril has said he desires a long-term deal, and while it's unclear if something will be worked out, it's unlikely he will play anywhere other than Detroit next season.
DT Andre Fluellen - Like Felton, Fluellen was tendered an offer at the original-round level. That means the Lions would receive a third-round pick if Fluellen signed elsewhere and the offer wasn't matched by the Lions. It's unlikely any team would give up a third-rounder for him, so chances are he will return to the Lions.
In addition to the three restricted free agents above, Jake Nordin and Kevin Smith are also considered free agents for the Lions. Had Detroit tendered them a qualifying offer they would be restricted, but since no tenders came their way they are free to sign anywhere (including with Detroit).