Activity in Allen Park heating up

In preparation for the start of the free agency period which begins at the stroke of midnight Thursday, the Detroit Lions made several personnel moves and pondered a few trade offers. Lions' insider Mike Fowler reviews what lies ahead when free-agency begins, including contract restructuring, possible free-agent visits, and a trade offer from the Texans that Detroit turned down.

(ALLEN PARK) -- In preparation for the start of the free agency period which begins at the stroke of midnight Thursday, the Detroit Lions made several personnel moves and pondered a few trade offers.

First, Detroit released veteran wide-receivers Germane Crowell and Desmond Howard.  Crowell started out in Detroit like a house fire.  The 6' 3" sixth-year veteran from Virginia caught 81 balls for 1,338 yards in 1999 and moved Hall of Fame receiver Herman Moore to the bench. 

Crowell looked like a young rising star, but back-to-back knee injuries and an assortment of other ailments limited Crowell's productivity in 2000.  After signing him to three-year, $7.5 million contract in 2002, Detroit decided to release him rather than pay a $2 million bonus that was due on March 1st.

Also released was oft-injured receiver/kick-returner Desmond Howard.

Howard, the 1993 Heisman Trophy winner at the University of Michigan never caught on as a wide receiver in the NFL, but made his mark as a high profile return man.  His electrifying 99-yard return in Super Bowl  XXXI in New Orleans sealed Green Bay's 35-21 win over New England and vaulted him into the upper echelon of all-time return men.  While he made an impact in Detroit, Howard was frequently injured and his career in Detroit ended when he was injured while celebrating a long return.

Detroit is known to be re-negotiating the deal of Robert Porcher who would count over $10 million against Detroit salary cap if his deal isn't redone.  It is expected that Porcher will get a two or three-year deal with a substantial bonus. 

Once done with these moves, Detroit will have nearly $12 million in cap space to play with when free agency begins.  Detroit is also expected to broach the subject of a new deal with defensive tackle Luther Elliss.  Elliss has three years remaining on his contract at $4.7, $5.2 and $5.5 million per season.  Elliss could also be a cap causality if a new deal isn't done.

TRADE TALKS:  Teams are now sending out feelers to see what it would take to grab Detroit's 2nd overall pick. has learned that the Houston Texans have spoken to the Lions about swapping their #3 and #2 overall respective draft positions.  The Texans would use the #2 pick to select Terrell Suggs, the pass rushing specialist Arizona State.  Detroit would still be able to grab Charles Rogers, the wide receiver from Michigan State, but Detroit will likely want more than the additional fifth round pick that the Texans are offering.

The Washington Redskins also spoke to Detroit on a proposed deal that would send Fred Smoot and Washington's first round pick (13th overall) to Detroit in exchange for Detroit first and 2nd round picks.  Detroit reportedly rejected the deal out of hand.

FREE AGENT TALK:  Detroit is expected to take a long hard look at several free agents that will be hitting the market on Friday.  Among them Sammy Knight, the safety who recently voided his contract with New Orleans.  Tyrone Williams of Green Bay will top the list of free agent corners that Detroit will entertain and former Atlanta Falcon Ashley Ambrose will also likely get a look.

With their linebacking corps up in the air, Detroit will talk to several free agents including Indianapolis' Mike Peterson, Tampa Bay's Shelton Quarles and Chicago's Roosevelt Colvin. 

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