Lions, Vikes battle it out for Kevin Curtis

With a package deal of an immediate starting position and sizeable payday, free-agent WR Kevin Curtis opted to visit Minnesota's headquarters in Winter Park to begin his free-agent tour. Curtis is expected to visit the Lions on Saturday.

Prior to the launch of this year's free-agency period, most analysts anticipated a few surefire signings. Among them, the reunion of Rams free-agent wide receiver Kevin Curtis and Detroit offensive coordinator Mike Martz, the former Rams coach.

That was until the Minnesota Vikings intervened.

Dangling a package deal of an immediate starting position and sizeable payday, Curtis opted to visit Minnesota's headquarters in Winter Park on Friday to begin his free-agent tour. And the Vikings, a franchise with a reputation of completing first-day, blockbuster deals, haven't yet allowed Curtis to hop a non-stop to the Motor City.

Curtis, 29, is due to visit with Martz, head coach Rod Marinelli and president Matt Millen on Saturday. Unless he joins the purple-clad crew first.

Although Curtis is familiar with Martz's system, and flourished in St. Louis until the coach's dismissal, the 5-11, 186-pound speedster will carefully examine his options. Minnesota has offered Curtis the likelihood of becoming a 'go-to' receiver, or at the least, an incredibly productive No. 2 pass catcher. The Vikings have also budgeted a higher cap number to spend at the position, where the Lions aren't nearly as thin.

As a Lion, Curtis would have to battle for playing time with former Rams teammate and leading receiver Mike Furrey.

NFL analyst Adam Caplan believes that if signed, Curtis is good enough to eventually unseat Furrey. However, because of Furrey's quantum leap in growth at the receiver position (96 receptions in 2006), and current chemistry with quarterback Jon Kitna, Curtis might find himself in the 40-50 reception range as opposed to 'Furrey'-like production.

And short a few million dollars, too.

The fact that Detroit likely won't get into a bidding war with the Vikings could sway Curtis toward Minnesota. For example, what is the incentive to hand an inflated salary to a player that, while familiar with the system, isn't a necessity? Granted, while Millen might capable of such a feat, the Lions would be better off pursuing alternatives -- and already have a few names in mind.

The Lions, we're told, have an eye on unrestricted free-agent Joe Horn, whose only drawback is his age (35). Horn was released by the Saints after refusing to take a paycut, but is still a capable No. 2 or No. 3 receiver. Another (albeit expensive) option would be WR Donte' Stallworth, who is testing the market after spending last year with Philadelphia.

Or, the most scintillating possibility, drafting Georgia Tech wide receiver Calvin Johnson with the No. 2 overall pick.

Regardless, the Lions have their options. The one saving grace of a deal between Curtis and the Lions is ultimately Martz, who has lobbied hard for Curtis, and hosts an offense that his former pupil is comfortable playing within.

If and when Curtis does arrive in Detroit, his decision won't be without complication.


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