"We'll go into this off-season with as much as or more cap room that we've [ever] had," Lewand stated. "Keep in mind, though, that when we tender players, that chews up cap room. With the tenders we made today, we have almost seven million dollars in cap room used up in the form of restricted free agent and exclusive rights tender. It's not just the snapshot of how much cap room you have and that gives you money to go after free agents, it's more complicated than that."
What Lewand didn't mention is the amount of cap space regained with the release of Luther Elliss, James Stewart, and Bill Schroeder. Detroit will gain more if they release Corey Harris as they are expected to do.
Stewart alone was scheduled to make $5.9 in base salary, by releasing him that comes immediately of the Lions cap. So does Elliss' $4.4 million and Schroeder's $655,000.
The Lions intend to contact players agents just after midnight tonight and sources close to the team tell Lionsfans.com that they have arranged visits with corner Ahmed Plummer and wide receiver Tai Streets tomorrow, corners Fernando Bryant and Antoine Winfield along with guard Ron Stone on Thursday, center Damien Woody, wide receiver Darrell Jackson and guard Chris Villarrial on Friday.
"We start working the phones and virtually every agent and representative is in his office at that point in time and we start setting up visits and booking plane tickets," said Lewand.
"When we want to move aggressively, as Matt said, we're prepared to do either; be patient or be aggressive. In the case of Dré Bly last year, we made some arrangements early on; made sure we were the first visit, got him up here early, and were able to get something done. But for every one of those successful visits and signings, there are many that don't go as anticipated and for good reason. We have to address needs strategically and we'll start that at 12:01 this morning and see if we can't get some visits scheduled over the next few days."
Detroit is expected to get defensive end James Hall signed to a five year deal later this evening, but Millen cautioned that he was not going to be overconfident about Hall's situation.
"I never feel good about them until they're done and everything is faxed over," said Millen. "Even then you can't believe it because some people don't believe those things."
"Matt (Millen) said he doesn't get optimistic until the ink is dry. I've seen deals go 18 ways from Sunday on the eve of free agency and we continue to work hard. I think James has expressed an interest in being here. We want him here and typically that allows you to get a deal done. But we've still got some miles to go before we sleep."
One player who appears to be gone is linebacker Barrett Green who could join his teammate Chris Claiborne in Minnesota, also the Indianapolis Colts and New York Jets are said to be interested in Green.
"We've spoken with Barrett a little bit. I think he's definitely going to look and see what's out there. We're going to talk to him the whole time. That's a player that I like – I think he's a productive player so we'll try and get something done."
But Green didn't accept Detroit offer earlier in the day, so unless they can get a deal done tonight, Green will be one of the top unrestricted free agent linebackers on the market.
Still, with tons of cap room and plane tickets to burn, Lions fans ought to stay tuned to Lionsfans.com for all the free agent signings and information.