Lions Notebook: Quick Start for Detroit

DE Kyle Vanden Bosch appears as though he could be reuniting with Jim Schwartz in Detroit. More news and notes inside ...

  • DE Kyle Vanden Bosch appears as though he could be reuniting with Jim Schwartz in Detroit. Schwartz, the Titans' former defensive coordinator, arrived at Vanden Bosch's house early Friday morning as free agency opened, and Yahoo! Sports reported that Detroit was expected to sign the defensive end later in the day.
  • WR Nate Burleson reportedly agreed to a five-year deal with Detroit in the opening hours of free agency, with ESPN reporting the deal to be worth $25 million.
  • The Lions spoke to the Chargers about a potential trade for cornerback Antonio Cromartie. There was talk a deal could be imminent, but one seemed unlikely despite the Lions' need at the position. Cromartie is only 25 and considered one of the most talented athletes in the NFL. He had 10 interceptions in 2007. But he has fallen out of favor because of a lack of physical play and off-the-field issues. He has had only five interceptions over the past two seasons.
  • Linebacker Larry Foote is expected to leave the Lions as an unrestricted free agent. General manager Martin Mayhew hasn't been on the same page with Foote and his agent, Brian Levy. "I did have some conversations with Larry and Brian," Mayhew said, "and we kind of left it like, 'Let's just stay in contact throughout free agency and see where it goes.' That could be Arizona. Foote signed with the Lions last year after seven years with the Steelers, and the big criticism of him is that he had difficulty adjusting from a 3-4 system to a 4-3. The Cardinals run a 3-4. They're coached by former Pittsburgh offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt, who brought much of his old team's philosophy with him. The Cardinals have become a haven for ex-Steelers, and they need help at inside linebacker, especially with Karlos Dansby expected to hit the free-agent market.
  • Foote spoke publicly during Super Bowl week about a perceived lack of interest by the Lions. Mayhew defended himself. "There's a time period in there where I read we hadn't talked to him or we weren't in contact with him," Mayhew said. "We weren't really actively in contact with any of our pending free agents at that time. That was East-West Shrine Game, Senior Bowl -- all that stuff was going on. A lot of times, when you get started too early, there's nothing really to talk about. I mean, what are you going to talk about? You're not going to do a deal right then. You're going to wait until you get closer and they have a better sense of what's available."
  • Mayhew was careful when he spoke to Kevin Poston, the agent for linebacker Julian Peterson. "I didn't use the word 'cut,' " Mayhew said with a laugh. "You don't want to use that word." Did he use the word "restructure?" "I can't remember what word," Mayhew said. "I know I didn't say 'cut.' I know that's a word I use very infrequently." Peterson is still a pro's pro and valuable to the Lions, who are short on talent and could lose linebacker Larry Foote in free agency. But Peterson didn't perform at his old Pro Bowl level last season, turns 32 in July and is scheduled to make $7.5 million this year. Could the Lions bring back Peterson at his current number? "That's possible, yeah," Mayhew said. But not preferable. "I think Julian did pretty much what we all expected him to do in a limited role," Mayhew said. "I thought he was productive. I thought he made plays. I thought he had an impact on our defense. And I think he's the kind of player who's going to be an even better player when he gets better players around him. So I'm happy with Julian, and there's no sense of urgency at all about that situation."
  • Cincinnati wide receiver Mardy Gilyard said Lions receivers coach Shawn Jefferson was harder on him than he was on anyone else at the Senior Bowl last month in Mobile, Ala. "Shawn Jefferson was really, really, really, really strict on me," Gilyard said today at the NFL scouting combine. "He did a lot of yelling, got in my face a lot. I can remember Day 1. He's like, 'Man, we want to see you hum, man.' And I needed stuff like that, because as a player, when you're good, when you feel like you're good, not that you take anything for granted, but sometimes you get lackadaisical. You need that kick in the butt to get you moving, and they gave me that." He also said he spoke a lot with Jefferson on a personal level. "He was also telling me, 'You know, Mardy, you need to make sure that you just stay out the way,' " Gilyard said. "You don't need to get any trouble. If you hang with a crew, tell your crew you'll hang with them when you get time to. But this is the time that you need to be indoors.' ... He showed me how to appreciate life as a professional. He was a professional in everything he did, and I like him a lot." It sounds like Jefferson likes Gilyard, too. "I think they actually do have an interest in me," Gilyard said. "I think they like me as a person because they got to know me that week as a person."
  • QUOTE TO NOTE: "They are. Yep. They're both very, very, very, very, very good." -- Browns GM Tom Heckert, on whether defensive tackles Ndamukong Suh and Gerald McCoy, candidates to be the Lions' pick No. 2 overall, are as good as advertised.

General manager Martin Mayhew made it clear the Lions won't be using a franchise or transition tag on anyone this year. No one rises to that level.

The biggest decisions are at linebacker. Larry Foote, the captain in the middle in 2009, is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent March 5. Mayhew said he wouldn't rule out bringing back Foote, but Foote sensed a lack of interest and said he expected to hit the market. Julian Peterson is due a $7.5 million salary in 2010. The Lions can't afford to overpay, but they're so short on talent that they can't afford to let decent players leave, either.


  • 1. Defensive line: The Lions failed to generate a four-man rush and were inconsistent against the run in 2009. They need both a pass rusher on the edge and a force in the middle. They could use the No. 2 pick on one of two tackles: Nebraska's Ndamukong Suh or Oklahoma's Gerald McCoy.
  • 2. Defensive back: Defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham likes to blitz, but the Lions couldn't cover behind it in 2009. Safety Louis Delmas, the first pick of the second round last year, is their only really promising DB.
  • 3. Running back: Kevin Smith is recovering from a torn ACL and separated shoulder, and the Lions needed more explosiveness at the position even before he got hurt.
  • MEDICAL WATCH: Running back Kevin Smith had surgery to repair a torn ACL in December. He was supposed to have surgery to tighten a separated shoulder after he got off crutches, but after seeking a second opinion, he no longer will have the surgery. He is expected to miss the offseason program, and it is unclear when he will be ready to return. ...

Rookie QB Matt Stafford had his right knee scoped in December, after suffering a partially dislocated kneecap Oct. 4 at Chicago. But he did not need surgery on his left shoulder, after suffering an AC joint separation Nov. 22 against Cleveland. He said his rehab has gone well and he expects to be ready for the start of the off-season conditioning program in March. ...

Tight end Brandon Pettigrew had a torn ACL repaired in December. He is expected to miss the offseason program, and it is unclear when he will be ready to return. ...

Right guard Stephen Peterman is recovering from ankle surgery. He should be cleared to participate at some point in the offseason program and is expected to be ready for training camp.

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