ALLEN PARK -- The Lions face a tricky situation in deciding whether to use the franchise tag on defensive lineman Cory Redding.
They have been recruiting Redding hard. Marinelli has been calling him every week because he believes Redding and Shaun Rogers would make a devastating tandem at defensive tackle.
According to a team source, however, the two sides are far from agreeable terms on a long-term contract. If Redding isn't re-signed before March 2, he will be eligible for free-agency. It is a liberty Detroit would revoke by designating Redding its franchise player -- a move both sides would like to avoid.
"Believe me, if there's a band marching, I'm the band director on this one," Marinelli said. "I'm marching full straight ahead on this.
"He's a guy I just ... I have to have back here."
But Marinelli says he wants players who want to play for the Lions, and if he has to recruit Redding hard, what does that say? If the Lions can't convince him to sign a new contract, are they going to force him to stay?
Redding did not seem enthusiastic about returning to Detroit at the end of the 2006 season, and players don't like being tagged because they want the freedom to explore their options when they have earned free-agent status.
"I have had a discussion with Matt Millen and the front office, and the details of those talks we're going to keep between us," said Kennard McGuire, who represents Redding. "But as far as designating him, that has never been a tool throughout the league that has been universally accepted by players and agents and a vehicle that really creates harmony."
Another wrinkle is that the Lions moved Redding from defensive end during the season, and there is almost a $2 million difference in the franchise figure between ends and tackles. It is $8,644,000 for ends. It is $6,775,000 for tackles.
Redding would be tagged as a tackle because he played 11 games there. He had eight sacks after making the switch.
"He's just learning the position right now," said Marinelli, who was a
defensive line coach his entire career before becoming the Lions' head coach
last year. "I know how far I can bring him and take him."