We know the Lions will be looking at the free agent market soon, and that some of their own will be walking away without a contract offer. There are six free agents (as per Killer Kowalski) who will be affected by the new CBA rules, andbecome restricted versus unrestricted free agents. This means that the Lions can tender them an offer equivalent to a draft pick (lets say a 3rd roundtender). Another team may sign that player, but must give up that draft pick to the Lions (or the Lions to a team if they sign any restricted free agents). This is why you see little movement of restricted free agents (normally) as they are not the type of players who you want to give up good draft picks for, but the type you are hoping to find a little lower in the draft.
This ifseason might be different due to the higher number of highly skilled restricted free agents coupled with a dearth of quality unrestricted free agents: The draft. A record number of Juniors are expected to declare, and the talent level is purported to be very deep this ifseason. Its a good year to have the draft broken up over three nights, and be holding the 2ndpick each night. There will be players in demand, and the Lions will not be the only team looking to get their hands on as much of this talent as possible. I’ve read a few places that guys who would normally go in the 4th or 5th may end up undrafted — which would be good news if Detroit can do as well as they did last draft on talent evaluation.
Before we get that far, lets look at the free agents in each category, and my thoughts on them. (in Italics after the name). You can also read Killer’s early take on who will/won’t be back.
T Jon Jansen Jon played as well as Gosder Cherilus — which tells me Gosder needs to step it up as Jansen is declining in his skill set. Still, he could be a capable backup andI would consider bringing him back again for the right price. However, he may get more money than the Lions want to spend for a backup as he is still serviceable which is more than some teams have right now.
QB Daunte Culpepper I may get hammered for this, but he didn’t play too badly the last game of the season. There isn’t a lot out there on the QB front as far as free agents; that being said, only for the right price which is right darn close to veteran minimum.
CB Will James Sure he got burned a lot, but he wouldn’t be a bad stop-gap to keep around a year or two. No way to fill all the offensive holes, and he could be dropped if something better came along in camp. He won’t likely garner more money than the Lions would offer in free agency as he showed the skills of a mediocre CB.
CB Anthony Henry To say he lost a step or two is an overstatement. There is likely a good reason the team didn’t have him at safety even with all the problems they had back there…
S Marquand Manuel What can I say about Manuel? Ended up injured and doing way less than even my not so stellar expectations for him.
QB Patrick Ramsey Let him compete with Daunte Culpepper and Drew Stanton, or bring in another journeyman.
TE Will Heller Those who kept saying Heller was just as good as Pettigrew saw what everyone else was finally seeing when Brandon Pettigrew went out with his knee injury: He just wasn’t as skilled or reliable in that crucial short passing game — especially for getting first downs — as Pettigrew. There is a reason he’s always been considered a blocking back. Lions will look to bring in more of a sledgehammer blocking back at TE to replace him.
TE Casey FitzSimmons He is a utility TE who keeps fighting injuries — but he was a crucial cog on special teams. If they don’t bring him back, it will be because someone like Gronk or another TE finally steps up their special teams and receiving play. I think the Lions will re-sign him. More of a pass catching than blocking TE, he andHeller together highlight why a TE like Pettigrew who does both can make such a big difference for an offense.
T Damion Cook Injuries kept him from seeing the field in 2009 as he was lost to IR in camp, but I don’t see him coming back.
LB Vinny Ciurciu Who’s that again?
WILL BE RESTRICTED UNDER NEW RULES
G Dylan Gandy Was a serviceable backup, but should not be starting at this point. Can back up OG and OC
G Daniel Loper Huge disappointment for me. He was fighting injuries the whole year (neck) is what some sources are saying, and I hope this is true and he can play better next season. Maybe put a low round tender on him and bring him into camp to see what he can do when healthy. It sure can’t be much worse that what he contributed last season.
DE Jason Hunter Bring this guy back, and make a 3rd round tender at least — it’s not like that would cost much. He looks like a solid rotational guy who could develop well. Though I don’t think he is going to be a high impact starter, he is the type of blue-collar player teams need to have on the roster for solid depth. At least for now, the Lions need that type of player.
S Daniel Bullocks I’m for letting the coaching staff decide if they want to bring him back and see if he has anything left after two season recovering from a devastating knee injury or not. Here’s hoping he can get back on track with where he was headed after his rookie year, but my gut says he may be another Teddy Lehman. Potential squashed by injuries.
LB Cody Spencer With the emergence of Levy and Dizon, even if Peterson or Foote is let go the Lions are still solid at LB for now. Footewill probably be back and Levy slide to Peterson’s spot since I’m not thinking he will renegotiate his deal to lessen the salary outlay to match his declining skills. They may draft another mid-round LB.
S Ko Simpson See Manuel, Marquand.
DE Copeland Bryan not much to say about him. one of many guys brought in to “try out” this season
CB Kevin Hobbs worth a training camp look…maybe.
G Manny Ramirez had a chance to prove his worth. And didn’t. Disappointing.
LB Zack Follett made his mark on special teams and will continue to do so. Just ask the Rams’ return man what he thinks. He won’t be able to remember his own name either after the hit Follett laid out on him. while he won’t ever see the field much as an actual LB, as long as his coverage and return skills keep up he will have a spot on the roster for a long time as a special teams specialist.
CB DeAngelo Smith tryout guy again I guess. There was so much flux in the secondary I lost track of who a lot of these guys were/are.
T Corey Hilliard See what he’s go?
TE Jake Nordin if Fitz is resigned he’ll be a practice squad guy again at best.
RB Cedric Peerman once again, I am forced to say: …
What are your thoughts on the Lions’ free agents? Any you liked that I didn’t? Those you didn’t like I did? Those I knew nothing about you know something about you want to share? (football related please, okay?)
If I missed any pending free agents that matter, please let me know!!