Inside Track: Receiving Corps to get Makeover

With Az-Zahir Hakim likely on chopping block and Tai Streets departure, corps will have a new look, but what are the best moves for team looking to make upward move in NFC North? Lions Insider Mike Fowler gives you his take on what the best moves are to make Detroit's offense purr.

(ALLEN PARK) - As the Detroit Lions continue their work of revamping about 25% of their offensive playbook, no doubt they've taken a long look at who will be manning their wideout positions this fall. While third-year veteran Charles Rogers and second-year receiver Roy Williams will be entrenched as the #1 and #2 receivers respectively, Detroit will be in the market for a #3 and a #4 receiver and perhaps a tight end.

Lions head coach Steve Mariucci has long contended that a productive high quality tight end is a key cog to the West Coast offense. Detroit had high hopes for veteran Stephen Alexander, who was coming off sports hernia surgery, to have a big year.

While Alexander's 41 catch for 377 yards and one touchdown performance was respectable, Detroit is looking for more. There exists the possibility that Detroit could take a tight end, like Virginia's Heath Miller in the first round of the 2005 NFL draft, but more likely Detroit will wait until the later rounds to address the position and may re-sign the veteran even if they take a player in the draft.

Hakim's situation is another story. One of Matt Millen's first bonus baby signing, Hakim has not lived up to expectations of his five-year, $16-million contract ($5.25 signing bonus) signed in 2002 and appears to be the odd man out as the Lions look to rebuild their receiving corps. Hakim is expected to be released on or shortly after June 1, lessening the blow of the team's salary cap. He has two years remaining on his contract. Releasing him after June 1 will push the accelerated pro-rated portion ($2.3 million) into next year's salary cap while his base salary would come off immediately.

Detroit could use the draft to address Hakim's third receiver position. A player like Miami's Roscoe Parrish, who has speed, hands and doesn't have the injury history of Hakim could step in and make an impact. The team will also look to a a talented group of wideouts, likely to include Mushin Muhammad of Carolina, Baltimore's Travis Taylor, Minnesota's Kelly Campbell, St. Louis' Dane Looker or the Texans' Cory Bradford.

Tai Streets will not return to the Lions roster next season. Streets struggled to make plays, looked a step slow and tactly questioned whether Mike McMahon might not be the better choice over Joey Harrington.

While Streets' analysis may have been right on, it isn't the course of wisdom to rock the boat when you're on a one-year conditional contract. Receiver/returner Reggie Swinton will be exposed to free agency but could return at the right price in a 6th receiver/special teams role.

Adding to the flux is none of the other receivers in camp appear to have what it takes to step up. David Kircus, who spent the last two years on the team's practice squad will get a shot to make the club or depart since he cannot be put on the unit again. Kircus hasn't made enough of an impact to play special teams and so is likely down to his last shot.

After the team gets past Rogers and Williams, this unit is likely to look a whole lot different in 2005 than it did in 2004. With the lack of production overall from the unit, that appears to be a good thing.

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