(ALLEN PARK) - On the surface, moving 5' 11', 225 lbs linebacker Barrett Green to the middle linebacker spot that was vacated by the departed Chris Claiborne may seem to be a panic move. However, a closer look reveals it could be the best thing for all concerned.
For his part, Green, now listed as 6' 0", 230 lbs, likes the idea of moving to the middle. "It's a good position for me," he said. "It allows me to use my speed. Last year, I was restricted because I had to stay behind the play. Now I can use my speed to attack."
He also likely realizes the move could be a boon to his bottom line. Green is coming into the final year of his contract (just $450,000 base) and needs a big year to ensure a big payday. If he stays healthy, there is little doubt that he would end up having a career year in tackles.
Green's best year was the 2001 season when he recorded 75 tackles at the weakside linebacker position. Contrast that with players like Jacksonville linebacker Mike Peterson (136 tackles) and Tampa Bay's Derrick Brooks (118 tackles) who also play the weakside.
Green would provide Detroit more speed at the position and there is not a question that he has the ability to cover backs and tight ends in his zone, the four-year veteran even played some safety in college at West Virginia.
For Detroit, the move would cover the loss of a young promising player in Claiborne, who recorded over 100 tackles each of the last three seasons and appeared to have even brighter days ahead. The Lions could now work to fill the weakside position vacated by Green through either free agency or by drafting from the larger talent pool at outside linebacker vs. the smaller pool at the inside position.
Lions head coach Steve Mariucci said the move isn't permanent just yet. Detroit will wait to see if anything shakes out on the free agent front either before or after the draft, but he wouldn't rule out the move either.
"He'd be extremely quick and athletic for a middle linebacker. Can it be done? Yeah. Shelton Quarles of Tampa Bay plays like that."