Free-Agent, Draft Concerns Cloud Lions

Futures of two first round picks unknown, and a laundry list of free-agents to tend to. Complete list of Lions' free-agents and NFL draft brief (what position is the team looking at?) inside.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

The major personnel question facing the Lions early in the off-season is the future of two of their recent first-round draft picks - quarterback Joey Harrington and wide receiver Charles Rogers.

Neither has been as productive as the team had hoped, but both have been working under less than ideal circumstances. Harrington was clearly a bad fit in former coach Steve Mariucci's West Coast offense and got very little support from Mariucci; Rogers missed all except five games and three plays of his first two seasons with broken collarbone injuries and got very little playing time after coming back from a four-game drug suspension during the past season.

Lions president Matt Millen has indicated the new coach will have a major role in determining the fate of Harrington and Rogers. Until a coach is hired, Millen has indicated no action will be taken.

FREE AGENT UPDATE:

  • T Jeff Backus (unrestricted free agent had some tough times in 2005 but is tough and hard-working; the Lions would like to keep him)
  • QB Jeff Garcia (Unrestricted free agent. Was a Steve Mariucci player who failed to produce and will probably not be brought back.)
  • MLB Earl Holmes (Unrestricted free agent. He's closing in on his 36th birthday but he was the team's best hitter until he went to injured reserve.)
  • CB R.W. McQuarters (Unrestricted free agent. Versatile player who lacks the speed to start but is valuable in a backup role and as a kick returner)
  • RB Shawn Bryson (Unrestricted free agent. The backup RB to Kevin Jones catches the ball well and is the team's best RB in pass protection; will probably be retained.)
  • WR/KR Eddie Drummond (Unrestricted free agent. Can't stay healthy and had a disappointing season in 2005; won't get a big contract from the Lions)
  • DE Jared DeVries (Unrestricted free agent. An unheralded player who is appreciated by teammates and coaches. The Lions want him back.
  • WR Kevin Johnson (Unrestricted free agent. A veteran who was productive until tearing his Achilles' tendon early in the season; his future is in doubt because of the injury)
  • OL Kyle Kosier (Unrestricted free agent. Brought stability to the LG position but is most valuable as a backup)
  • DE Kalimba Edwards (Unrestricted free agent. Athletic ability hasn't translated into big production; Lions will take him back but only at the right price)
  • CB Andre Goodman (Unrestricted free agent. Adequate No. 3 or 4 CB; the Lions will probably re-sign him)
  • S Vernon Fox (Unrestricted free agent. Valuable on special teams, but he's expendable)
  • LB Wali Rainer (Unrestricted free agent. A good special teams player with limited ability as a starter, valuable at the right price)
  • FB Paul Smith (Unrestricted free agent. Plays so hard he's seldom healthy, probably will not be re-signed)
  • C Brock Gutierrez (Unrestricted free agent. Backup center and special teams player; expendable)
  • S Bracy Walker (Unrestricted free agent. Can contribute on special teams but shouldn't start; expendable)
  • LB LeVar Woods (Unrestricted free agent. Emergency starter when injuries decimated Lions LB corps; not likely to return)
  • LB Nate Wayne (Unrestricted free agent. Signed as a backup when injuries cut into LB corps; not likely to be re-signed)
  • LB James Davis (Restricted free agent. Starting WLB and the only starting LB who played all 16 games; likely to be re-signed)
  • FS Terrence Holt (Restricted free agent. Inherited the starting job but had limited success; will be re-signed but not seen as the long-term free safety)
  • RB Artose Pinner (Restricted free agent. A power runner in a backup role; will probably be re-signed)
  • DE Cory Redding (Restricted free agent. Starting defensive end. Not spectacular but figures in the Lions' defensive plans)
  • TE Casey FitzSimmons (Restricted free agent. A solid contributor on special teams and as a backup TE; will be re-signed).

    FEELING A DRAFT: If the Lions can land a dominating tackle with the No. 9 pick in the draft, they would probably take him. They are still lacking an edge pass rusher and will be looking for help in the secondary at free safety. With MLB Earl Holmes aging, they will also look for a big hitter in that position to go with the speed linebackers they have drafted in recent years.
    MEDICAL WATCH: The Lions finished the season with four of their top five LBs on injured reserve but none of the injuries is believed to be career threatening - SLB Boss Bailey (ankle), MLB Earl Holmes (knee), LB Teddy Lehman (knee) and Alex Lewis (ankle). WR Kevin Johnson had surgery after suffering a torn Achilles' tendon in late October.

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