Lewand confident of rookie contract negotiations

Lions' COO Tom Lewand comments on the progress of rookie contract negotiations (including a fair warning to agents who might consider a holdout), plus the Lions' cap status in general. Plus: Lions' UDFA Shawn Lazarus suffers injury during final day of passing camp.

(ALLEN PARK) - Lions fans need not worry about Charles Rogers and Boss Bailey getting into camp on time. Lions C.O.O. Tom Lewand says he has no intention of allowing any rookie to be a holdout - at least as far as it depends on him.

"Bryant Westbrook was our last holdout in 1997. We have been very successful in putting together fair offers for all of the rookies we drafted. We expect to do the same thing this year and hopefully, we will have everyone in on time," Lewand said on the final day of the Lions passing camp.

Lewand said his philosophy is to put a fair offer on the table and not to try to get 'something for nothing.'

"We have always wanted to treat our guys fairly. We want to slot them into the process. We are not looking to extract a pound of flesh. We want to make sure they can get the maximum time in camp to develop. It is the best for them and the best for us."

But then Lewand issued a thinly veiled warning to any agent who might attempt to test the Lions patience in negotiations.

"We have made agents aware that we will put our best foot forward before training camp and not after. The deals do not go up if you are a holdout."

Lewand confirmed that the Lions have begun talks with all of their draft picks and are making good progress.

"We have started the process of beginning dialogue with all of the agents for all of the draft picks. Hopefully, we'll see some of the guys start to sign here in the upcoming weeks and work towards getting everybody in here for training camp."

With Detroit nearly $8 million under the cap, they have room to manuever if they decide that they would like to sign another veteran. Lewand said Detroit will take a look to see if anyone shakes loose "Black Sunday," June 1, the first day when players can be released and have their pro-rated signing bonuses count against next year's salary cap instead of 2003's limit.

"We have plenty of money under the cap to handle our $5.5 million dollar rookie pool and then we have a little more in the event that there are players available after June 1 or in the event we want to look at some of our existing guys and extend or restructure their contracts," Lewand said.

Defensive tackle Shawn Lazarus suffered an apparent injury to his patella tendon in the final day of the Lions passing camp, the first week of the franchise's "organized team activity."

Lazarus was helped off the field and coach Steve Mariucci commented on his situation. "He hurt his knee - his patella. He's going to get it checked and he'll be re-evaluated later today."

Lazarus was attempting to make the team as an undrafted free agent out of Michigan.

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