ALLEN PARK - Rather than make a big pitch for prolific free-agent quarterback Drew Brees, it appears the Detroit Lions will target former Cincinnati Bengals starting quarterback Jon Kitna (17-of-29, 99 yards, 58.6% completion rate, 36.4 passer rating) to provide competition to Joey Harrington, Scout.com's Mike Fowler has learned.
Kitna, a nine year veteran from Central Washington, will be looking to join the third team of his up-and-down career. He never adapted to the West Coast Offense of head coach Mike Holmgren in Seattle and once he became a free agent he signed with the Cincinnati Bengals and became the team's starter.
The best of his five seasons came in 2003 when the 33-year old signal caller compiled a 87.4 passer rating and threw for 3,591 yards with 26 touchdowns against 15 interceptions. Kitna was replaced by former Southern California quarterback Carson Palmer in 2004. Palmer easily surpassed Kitna's number in 2005, throwing for nearly 4,000 yards and 32 touchdowns while compiling a 101.1 passer rating.
Sources close to the team have indicated that Detroit has internally expressed interest in Kitna and will make a pitch for him when the expected start of the free agency period begins on Friday.
This doesn't mean Detroit won't have conversations with Brees and his representatives, but it does mean the Lions don't believe they have much of a shot at signing the former Purdue standout who appears headed to Miami, who is expected to make a big early pitch to grab the young franchise quarterback.
Detroit's apparent decision to go after Kitna, rather than a younger player like Washington's Patrick Ramsey (27 years old, 95.3 passer rating) or Arizona's Josh McCown (26 years old, 74.9 passer rating) seems to be yet another vote of confidence to underachieving Joey Harrington (27 years old, 72.0 passer rating in 2005).
Harrington, the third overall pick in the draft in 2001, would be entering his fourth straight season as the undisputed starting quarterback, carrying a cap figure of nearly $10 million despite carrying a career 68.1 passer rating.