VanFulpen's Insider Notebook

-Well it doesn't look like either James Stewart or Charlie Batch will be picked up in the expansion draft so the next move for these two players is they both will be asked to take a pay cut. The Lions have already contacted James Stewart's agent looking to see what the can do with his salary cap number, for this year and the future. Stewart is likely to take a pay cut in his base salary but not as much as the Lions want him to.

-Batch of the other hand is a different story, there was already hard feelings between Batch and Head Coach Marty Mornhinweg and GM Matt Millen before, during, and after the season and the way Batch found out he was on the expansion list did not sit well with him. Batch knows that second year quarterback Mike McMahon basically will be the starting quarterback next year, and he will be the back up. There are some rumors that Batch will not redo his contract, forcing the Lions to cut him or trade him. His thinking if he can hook on with another team where he can legitimately compete for the starting job, after he is released. With teams such as Houston, Carolina, Buffalo, Cincinnati, Washington, Chicago, and Miami, looking for a starter, an upgrade, or a more stable player at the quarterback position. If Batch does decide to stay with Detroit the only way according to one member of the Detroit Lions organization for Batch to start next season is if "McMahon gets hurt or fall on his face in training camp, which is unlikely to happen. If it does Mornhinweg might go with Detmer not Batch."

-Two players on the defensive side of the ball that are willing to take pay cuts are Stephen Boyd and Luther Elliss. Boyd is on the trading block because of the play of middle linebacker Chris Claiborne that season. But he is willing to take a large pay cut to stay with the team. There was some talk Boyd back injury might force him to retire, but he say he is fully healed and ready to go when training camp opens. The Lions have some decisions to make at the linebacker spots, with Claiborne and Boyd they both basically are middle linebackers. True Claiborne played outside before this year but clearly is a better middle linebacker then an outside linebacker, so that levels only Barrett Green as the Lions only true outside linebacker with speed. There are some free agent linebacker that the Lions will be looking at come March 1st, Shawn Barber, from Washington who played for new defensive coordinator, Kurt Schottenheimer. Others include Sam Cowart of Buffalo, Kailee Wong of Minnesota, Jamie Duncan of Tampa Bay, James Farrior of the New York Jets, and Greg Favors of Tennessee.

-Elliss is willing to re-work his contract so that the Lions can have some cap space to sign some free agents this off-season. He wants the Lions to go out and get a right defensive end either in the free-agent market or in the draft and the Lions front office does agree with him. Kenny Mixon of Miami is one defense end that is an unrestricted free agent that the Lions will look at. But they are looking more in the second round of the draft for a possible right defensive end, and they think maybe players such as Alex Brown of Florida, Dwight Freeney of Syracuse, and Dennis Johnson of Kentucky could be around when their second round pick comes up (35).

-Beside Batch and Stewart the Lions would like to redo wide receiver Johnnie Morton contract as well, since his cap number will be over $5 Million dollars this season. But the Lions need to keep Morton because he was the only player on the offensive side of the ball that play consistent week in and week out and didn't miss a game with injury.

-Another wide receiver that the Lions have a big decision on is Germane Crowell; he is coming off a knee injury and surgery on both of his knees. The Lions have contacted Crowell's agent and they are talking about doing a one or two-year contract at a lower end base salary, back loaded with incentives. There is some talk that there are other teams that are interested in Crowell and willing to give him a bigger deal then Detroit, one of the teams is the Green Bay Packers.

-There is three unrestricted free-agent safeties that the Lions are going to look at this off-season they are Eric Brown of Denver, Shaun Williams of the New York Giants, and Tony Parrish of Chicago. All three safeties are not expected to re-sign with their 2001 team. Williams is the first choicer of these players because of his cover ability but the Lions would not mind signing any one of these players because of their lack of safeties. All three of these safeties are quality players who are young and talented.

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