The Lions had a ton of needs going into the off-season and they have had a steady stream of visitors at their Allen Park headquarters as president Matt Millen and coach Steve Mariucci try to fill the holes in the roster.
Their most recent success was the signing of free safety Brock Marion. Combined with the signing of cornerback Fernando Bryant in early March, it gives the Lions a major overhaul in the defensive secondary where they struggled in 2003. With Bryant and Marion joining cornerback Dre' Bly, they should be much stronger in 2004.
On the same day Marion visited, the Lions also hosted Denver linebacker Ian Gold. Although he left without a contract, the Lions have an obvious interest and an obvious need in signing him after losing weak-side linebacker Barrett Green to the NY Giants.
A new concern has surfaced also. Backup QB Mike McMahon is expected to accept their one-year offer for $1.3 million but he is likely to leave after the 2004 season for a team that will give him a shot at a starting job. After losing third-string QB Ty Detmer to Atlanta, the Lions will likely pick-up journeyman QB Rick Mirer as his replacement.
1. Running back. They released veteran RB James Stewart for cap reasons and last year's biggest producer, Shawn Bryson, is a UFA, leaving only second-year RB Artose Pinner. They need a lead back, probably in the draft but might have to re-sign Stewart just to stay respectable for a year;
2. Wide receiver. The Lions released Bill Schroeder after two unhappy and unproductive seasons but they have to find a replacement to line up across from WR Charles Rogers. Two possibilities - UFA WR Tai Streets of San Francisco and a first or second-round draft pick;
3. Guard. By signing UFA Damien Woody from New England, the Lions are all set at LG but would like to land an experienced starter at RG, then re-sign Eric Beverly as a backup to all three interior line positions.
UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS (7): OG Kerlin Blaise; OG Ray Brown; CB Doug Evans;
WR Shawn Jefferson; P John Jett; CB Otis Smith; LB Brian Williams.
UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS (not tendered offers): CB Leonard Myers (RFA tender withdrawn).
RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS (7): WR Scotty Anderson; LB Donte' Curry; P Nick Harris; QB Mike McMahon; CB Leonard Myers; WR Reggie Swinton; FB Stephen Trejo.
EXCLUSIVE RIGHTS FREE AGENTS (4): CB Chris Cash; S Julius Curry; LS Jody Littleton; OG Josh Lovelady.
PLAYERS RE-SIGNED: RB Shawn Bryson; WR Eddie Drummond; DE James Hall; WR David Kircus; DT Kelvin Pritchett; S Bracy Walker.
PLAYERS ACQUIRED: CB Fernando Bryant; OG David Loverne; S Brock Marion; CB Dainon Sidney; WR Tai Streets; OG Damien Woody.
PLAYERS LOST: OG Eric Beverly; QB Ty Detmer; DT Luther Elliss; LB Jeff Gooch; S Corey Harris; WR Bill Schroeder; RB James Stewart.
MEDICAL WATCH: DE Kalimba Edwards, who struggled last season and was never effective after an off-season surgery for a sports hernia, underwent a similar surgery again this year and is said to be progressing much better. No immediate indication on what he will be able to do in mini-camp, however.