(ALLEN PARK) - Are the Lions ready to abandon the two-week long holding pattern in their free agency plans? Signs are pointing in that direction.
It appears that, after a week of deciding which linebackers were "the right fit" for their defensive scheme, Detroit has settled on two candidates that they will focus their efforts on.
Detroit has begun negotiations with Green Bay Packers free agent linebacker Na'il Diggs on an offer sheet. Detroit is attempting to structure the offer sheet to make it difficult for Green Bay to match, meaning it would need to be front-loaded and at terms acceptable to Diggs and his agent Mitch Frankel.
The Packers, while keeping their options open, clearly have made the choice to try to secure the services of pass rushing specialist Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila (25.5 sacks in two seasons), even if it means losing Diggs, their top linebacker. If signed, Detroit would either play Diggs at strong side or middle linebacker.
Simultaneously, Detroit is mulling making an offer to Wali Rainer, a free agent strong side linebacker from Jacksonville. Just 25, Rainer recorded 86 tackles for the Jaguars last season, but had his best years in Cleveland when he recorded 137 tackles as a rookie playing the middle for the Browns.
That might appeal to Lions GM Matt Millen who appears to be looking for someone to replace Detroit's own free agent linebacker Chris Claiborne.
But Rainer was traded away on draft day after three years in Cleveland just to move up three spots so the Browns could draft offensive lineman Melvin Fowler. Browns coach Butch Davis allowed Rainer to walk because he felt he was too slow. The Lions have placed emphasis on getting more speed in their linebacking corps.
Former coach Tom Coughlin said of Rainer, ``He certainly does not have running-back speed. He's very aggressive and he likes to attack the line of scrimmage. He will go and tackle and run. If anything it's been an idea that maybe the play-action pass could be played a little bit better, a little bit more cautiously.''
SAD NOTE: As we mentioned yesterday, Al Blades, the younger brother of former Lions Bennie Blades and Seahawk receiver Brian Blades was killed yesterday in an automobile accident when the car he was riding in struck an embankment and entered a canal. The driver of the vehicle was also killed in the accident.