I know that safety is priority one on the job site. But on the Lions? Seriously folks -- the Lions now have SEVEN safeties under contract. They also resigned Travis Fisher at CB. So I thought about it, and I can see, with who they signed, where this may be going. Not saying I like or dislike the moves -- I'm just not sure yet. I am almost sure it means 2 things:
1. The Lions are NOT signing Brian Kelly
2. The Lions are not going to use a high draft pick on a CB.
So lets take a look at listed position, and the known contract for each player in the defensive backfield:
S Kenoy Kennedy: 2.7 Million
S Daniel Bullocks: 445,000
S Gerald Alexander: Unsure
S Greg Blue: ERFA - not tendered
S Dwight Smith: 2 yrs 5 mil (most 2nd yr)
S Kalvin Pearson: 1.20 mil base; 325k cap hit SB
S Patrick Body: Unsure
CB Travis Fisher 3 mil
CB Leigh Bodden 1.7 mil
CB Keith Smith 2 mil
CB Stanley Wilson 927k
So there you have a majority of the Lions 2008 DB's -- plus maybe a low round draft pick.
By all accounts, I see Kennedy as gone. He has not been a great locker room leader, he doesn't do crap on special teams, and hasn't been the hard hitting safety for the Lions he was with Denver. I don't think they want to cut him outright, but I can see him leaving as a draft day trade - possibly like McCown last year for a 4th. Millen then used the Lions' 4th as part of a package to get one of their two additional 2nd rounders. With the solid players in need areas available in the 2nd, and Millen's awful record after the 3rd round, I can see them packaging their 3rds with 4th or 5th rounders to get back into 3 2nd like they did last draft.
Now, assuming Kennedy will be gone, that still leaves 4 CB's, and 6 S. Pearson has played both CB and S, as has Smith. Pearson is also a hard-core special teamer. I see him as the 5th CB on the roster, rather than the 4th S. Body didn't get a SB, and I see him as camp competition for the 4th S spot. I don't think they will bring Bashir back.
They may also consider moving Alexander to CB, but after careful consideration, I don't see it. Smith was brought in to be a backup S and teach/mentor the two young starting S Bullocks and Alexander. While it's a long way to training camp - I don't see the Lions picking a CB until the 3rd or 4th round now. I think it will be:
S Alexander and Bullocks
Backups: Smith and one of: Kennedy, Blue, Body
CB: Bodden starting, with Fisher and Smith rotating the other side
Wilson rotating with Fisher and Smith in the nickle, and Pearson as the "extra" CB and S, and a core special teams player.
That has the Lions keeping 4 S and 5 CB; I think they will keep the extra DB for special teams versus an extra LB like they have in the past. If they draft a high CB, I think Wilson is gone. They only gave him a 6th round tender, and it won't cost them cap wise if he is cut. As for Pearson, I have read from TB sites that while he was a solid backup to have around at S and Cb, he is a star ST player -- which the Lions desperately needed after last years ST fiasco's.
While I'm not sold on the above moves being a major upgrade over last season, I do view it as an upgrade overall. It leaves the Lions more free on draft day as well. I'm not convinced they need to take a CB before round 3 or 4 now this season. With how the deals are structured, they can get a CB next year to upgrade over the current if one is available; same at S -- without taking any sizable cap hits. Even as it is, they are only taking up about 14 mil in cap space on the Defensive secondary. That's 11 of 53 guys. 22% of the team for about 13% of the Cap. And with a good mix of Veterans and young up and coming players. Okay, maybe I like the moves better than I thought. We'll just have to see I guess. Thoughts?
This differs significantly in their approach to contracts in the past (and how many teams are guaranteeing big contracts to guys like Woody, SRogers,Duckett, Walker,Berrian et al) where they couldn't cut a guy in the first two years if they wanted to. (Kirwan on NFL.com has a good article on it.)
This development of being "set" (In Millen's eyes) at DB means I'll have to re-evaluate my drafting and FA needs...again. But that is what tomorrow is for.
Well, this is the most exciting time of year to be a Lions fan -- the offseason!