National Football League free agency is scheduled to begin in less than a week.
On March 13th, players with expiring contracts will be free to negotiate contracts with any and all teams.
Each team enters free agency with differing objectives. Some seek blockbuster deals in an effort to gain legitimacy as championship contenders, some are looking simply for value adds to their roster and others only hope to retain their own players.
The Detroit Lions will most likely fall into the last two buckets.
No one should expect a repeat of 2010, when the Lions aggressively and immediately pursued their coveted free agent targets (Kyle Vanden Bosch and Nate Burleson). Instead, look for the Lions to be quiet during the first couple of waves of free agent signings as they allow the market to settle, optimizing the value of any signings.
Last season the Lions passed on bigger-named and higher-priced free agents and demonstrated discipline in their signings.
They ultimately signed linebackers Justin Durant and Stephen Tulloch as well as cornerback Eric Wright – all representing less expensive alternatives to other players at the position yet still proved to be valuable contributors as defensive starters.
The Lions priority will be to return their own key free agents while looking for opportunities to improve their roster.
Let's examine some of the viable – and not so viable – free agent options for the Lions at some positions of interest – starting with cornerback.
Finnegan is often linked to the Lions – especially if you're asking those residing in the state of Michigan. The link is understandable. The Lions could use some secondary help, and Finnegan is one of the top free agents at the position and he has history with head coach Jim Schwartz.
Often overlooked is the fact that Finnegan will be seeking a deal that will offer a figure that neighbors $10 million annually. A price the Lions aren't likely to pay.
Do not expect the Lions to sign Finnegan, as the need doesn't match the price tag. There is almost no chance the Lions land the 28-year-old cornerback.
The New York Giants appear as if they are not going to be interested in returning Ross after he helped them reach – and win – the Super Bowl.
The primary reason the Giants will be interested in allowing Ross to leave has less to do with his playing ability and more to do with depth and talent they have at the position, starting with Prince Amukamara, their first-round pick from 2011.
The Giants play under a similar defensive philosophy to the Lions, rarely blitzing while often giving safety help to their outside cornerbacks.
Ross will come cheaper than Finnegan but that doesn't necessarily mean he will come cheap.
Whether or not the Lions pursue Ross remains to be seen, however he may be a more likely option than Finnegan simply because of the associated price tag.
Jennings spent the first six seasons of his career with the Bears and is a name that should be somewhat familiar to Lions fans.
He has been linked to the Lions in some reports and he does seem like he may represent a decent fit however, the Lions interest may heavily depend on the associated price tag.
Jennings is believed to be seeking a raise from his 2011 salary, which was slightly less than $2 million.
Jennings is in a tier lower than Ross but may offer more value.
Recently released from the Seattle Seahawks, Trufant represents a seldom mentioned but potentially intriguing free agent option for the Lions.
Trufant is a nine-year veteran who is capable of playing a starting role while not commanding top dollar on the free agent market.
Trufant also represents a positive locker room personality, which is valued by the Lions.
What to expect
The Lions don't appear to have any interest in making a large splash in free agency, including with the cornerback position.
The team's top priority at the position may be simply to return Eric Wright, however they will do their due diligence in scanning the free agent market.
Also, it is entirely possible that the Lions address the position via draft.
The Lions believe they do have some talent at cornerback and won't make any rash decisions. If the right player comes at the right price, they will move. However, it is just as likely that they make no significant moves at the position before the draft.