Signing of Holmes improves defensive outlook

Lions' insider Mike Fowler reviews the signing of former Cleveland Browns' MLB Earl Holmes, and exactly what the Lions linebacker arrangement may resemble next season. Also, hot rumors are abound regarding one safety Detroit could be targeting. Plus more info on Luther Elliss' cap situation.

(ALLEN PARK) - You have to give credit where credit is due and Lions president Matt Millen is smiling today.  After a rapid assessment of the team's inadequacies at linebacker in their recent minicamp, Millen signed the best middle linebacker still available on the market, former Cleveland Browns star Earl Holmes.

Holmes signed a three-year deal, which, when combined with the two-year deal signed by veteran free agent Wali Rainer means the Lions will likely be set at the linebacker position for the next few years.  Only Barrett Green, the Lions starter at the weak side for the last two seasons, will be eligible for free agency next season.

Green had embraced the move to the middle where he would have likely had a breakout year in tackles due to the nature of the position.  With both Rainer and Holmes in the fold, Detroit will likely start Holmes in his familiar middle linebacker position, play Rainer where he played last season, at the strong side and move Green back to his weak side. 

Detroit also has veterans Brian Williams and Jeff Gooch in reserve and will likely attempt to acquire at least one player at the position through the upcoming draft.

ONE TO WATCH:  Rumors are flying that Detroit will next attempt to sign veteran unrestricted free agent safety Sammy Knight.  Knight, who most recently visited Pittsburgh, is a true playmaker, recording 107 tackles and five interceptions last season.  Knight will be entering just his six seasons after joining New Orleans as an undrafted free agent. One possible holdup is that Knight is looking for a deal with at least a $2 million base and that has scared all suitors off to this point. 

Detroit is expected to free up part if not all of Luther Elliss $5 million base salary to the cap eventually.  Elliss is wary of what happened to veteran defensive tackle James Jones, who restructured his contract with the team.  Thinking he had a spot on the team after doing so, Jones gave it his all for the full minicamp and training camp sessions for rookie coach Marty Mornhinweg, only to be cut a day before the start of the regular season.

Still, Elliss will either re-negotiate or likely be released on or after June 1.

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