STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
But they have addressed most of their off-season needs at one level or another, signing quarterbacks Jon Kitna, Josh McCown and Shaun King; offensive linemen Rex Tucker, Barry Stokes and Courtney VanBuren; and free safety Idrees Bashir. They also signed two veteran receivers -- Corey Bradford and Mike Furrey.
It appears those players might not fill all of the vacancies, but president Matt Millen apparently believes he can solve the remaining problems in the draft or the June 1 cuts.
1. Secondary: The addition of veteran Idrees Bashir provides competition for incumbents Terrence Holt and Jon McGraw at FS, but the Lions lost two cornerbacks to free agency and still need depth in that area.
2. Left guard: The Lions have signed three journeymen offensive linemen who will compete with Rick DeMulling at LG and Kelly Butler at RT, but it's still up in the air whether they will be better at those positions. The three are Rex Tucker, Barry Stokes and Courtney VanBuren.
3. Linebacker. The Lions have taken fast, athletic linebackers in the past three drafts but they might need more to run defensive coordinator Donnie Henderson's style of attacking defense. In addition, MLB Earl Holmes is 33 and they don't have a sure-fire replacement, whether it's this year or next.
With a change in coaching staffs, there is generally an entourage of players following them from their former teams. And that is the case with the Lions' new staff.
Here is the list of recently-signed unrestricted free agents and their connection with new coaches on the Lions' staff:
- Quarterback Shaun King played at Tampa Bay when Lions coach Rod Marinelli was there.
- Guard Rex Tucker played last season at St. Louis, where Lions new offensive coordinator Mike Martz was the head coach.
- LB Paris Lenon played last season at Green Bay, where Lions new offensive line coach Larry Beightol was the line coach.
- Tackle Barry Stokes played for Beightol at Miami in 1997.
- Wide receiver Corey Bradford played at Houston under Lions new receivers coach Kippy Brown.
- Wide receiver Mike Furrey, the most recent free-agent signee, played the last three seasons under Martz with St. Louis.
FRANCHISE PLAYER: OT Jeff Backus (tendered at $6.983M).
TRANSITION PLAYER: None.
UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS
- WR Troy Edwards was signed in late October to fill injury-related holes in receiving corps, was active for just three games with two receptions for 15 years. Does not figure in plans for 2006.
- S Vernon Fox is primarily a special teams contributor, is probably expendable.
- C Brock Gutierrez was strictly a backup to starting C Dominic Raiola and played some on special teams. He is not a high priority.
- LB Earl Holmes will be 33 in April but he was the Lions' best run-stopper until he was beset with injuries in the second half of the season. He's a valuable player if the Lions can re-sign him at the right price.
- WR Kevin Johnson was the veteran influence the Lions wanted for their young receiving corps until he suffered a torn Achilles' tendon. If he's healthy, the Lions probably will want to keep him.
- S Scott McGarrahan was signed off waivers from San Diego on Dec. 21 and was not active in final two games of the season. Not expected back for 2006.
- FB Paul Smith was a favorite of the Steve Maruicci regime because he played so hard. He couldn't stay healthy, however, and will probably be replaced.
- S Bracy Walker isn't a starting-caliber player at 35 but has been a consistent contributor on special teams, which gives him a chance at another contract.
- LB Nate Wayne was signed when the Lions were hit by LB injuries late in the season. He didn't distinguish himself and is not likely to be re-signed.
UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS (not tendered offers)
- LB Matt Grootegoed (not tendered as ERFA).
RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS
- LB James Davis (tendered at $721,600 with 5th-round pick as compensation) was the only starter to survive the full 16-game season and is likely to compete for the WLB job again in 2006.
- TE Casey FitzSimmons has found a nice niche as an excellent special teams player and backup TE to Marcus Pollard.
- FS Terrence Holt didn't step up as the Lions had hoped in his first full season as a starter but will probably be back.
- DE Cory Redding continued to make progress as the starting LDE. He isn't a high-impact pass rusher, but he's a solid player who will definitely be back.
EXCLUSIVE RIGHTS FREE AGENTS
- WR Glenn Martinez spent most of the 2005 season on the practice squad but was active for five games, made one catch for 11 yards. Likely to be re-signed.
- TE Sean McHugh played three games late in the season after TE Casey FitzSimmons suffered a concussion. No catches.
- RB Artose Pinner finally got playing time and responded as a hard-nosed, unspectacular RB, who could fill a backup role. Likely to be re-signed.
- RB Shawn Bryson: Potential UFA; $4.5M/3 yrs, $1.5M SB.
- DE Jared DeVries: UFA; 5 yrs, terms unknown.
- WR/KR Eddie Drummond: UFA; $6M/4 yrs, $2M SB; 2006 cap: $985,000.
- DE Kalimba Edwards: UFA; $20M/5 yrs, $8M guaranteed.
- LS Don Muhlbach: ERFA; terms unknown.
- LB LeVar Woods: UFA; 1 yr, terms unknown.
- S Idrees Bashir: UFA Panthers; 1 yr, terms unknown.
- WR Corey Bradford: UFA Texans; $7.4M/4 yrs, $2M SB.
- TE Dan Campbell: UFA Cowboys; 5 yrs, terms unknown.
- WR Mike Furrey: Not tendered as RFA by Rams; 1 yr, terms unknown.
- RB Arlen Harris: Not tendered as RFA by Rams; $500,000/1 yr.
- QB Shaun King: FA; terms unknown.
- QB Jon Kitna: UFA Bengals; $11.5M/4 yrs, $3.5M SB.
- LB Paris Lenon: UFA Packers; 3 yrs, terms unknown.
- QB Josh McCown: UFA Cardinals; $6M/2 yrs, $2M SB.
- OT Barry Stokes: UFA Falcons; 3 yrs, terms unknown.
- OL Rex Tucker: UFA Rams; $3.65M/3 yrs, $1M SB.
- OL Courtney VanBuren (not tendered as RFA by Chargers; terms unknown).
- QB Jeff Garcia: UFA Eagles; 1 yr, terms unknown.
- CB Andre Goodman: UFA Dolphins; $5M/3 yrs, terms unknown.
- OG Kyle Kosier: UFA Cowboys; $15M/5 yrs, $5M SB.
- OG David Loverne (released).
- CB R.W. McQuarters: UFA Giants; $6M/3 yrs, $2M SB.
- LB Wali Rainer: UFA Texans; terms unknown.
MEDICAL WATCH: No updates.