Time for plan "B"?

Despite the impressive campaign to land former Packers' linebacker Nate Wayne, Detroit lost out on the bidding to Philadelphia when Wayne announced his intentions Friday afternoon. Lions' insider Mike Fowler takes a look at what Detroit can do to salvage a free-agent period that hasn't gone as planned for Matt Millen and the organization.

Before former Packers' linebacker Nate Wayne agreed to a four-year deal with the Philadelphia Eagles, the questions hounded Lions' GM Matt Millen earlier in the week regarding the team's inability to sign its current primary target: A linebacker.

"We don't want to just have a guy, we want to have the right guy, like we did with Dre' Bly," Millen told the Detroit Free Press. "There was a clear-cut guy above everybody else, so we went and got him."

That is what Millen and the team attempted with Wayne.

Wayne visited with Detroit extensively yesterday.  After arriving in Detroit in the early afternoon, Wayne visited the Lions Allen Park practice facility, toured Ford Field with Lions officials and then went to an evening dinner with the team. 

The Lions presented Wayne with a substantial offer.  Initially, the fifth-year veteran from Mississippi felt he would be able to make a decision on his future team by yesterday evening.  But apparently the Lions presentation was substantial enough to put doubt in his mind and give Detroit a shot.

Unfortunately, that doubt only lasted until Friday afternoon.

TIME FOR PLAN "B": With Wayne heading to 'greener' pastures, many fans are asking what are the Lions other options?  Well, Detroit still can re-sign its own free agent linebacker Chris Claiborne, who drew only tepid interest around the league.  Claiborne finds himself in a similar situation to that of Robert Porcher and may find that a one-year deal is in the best interest of both himself and the club.

Unrestricted free agent middle linebacker Earl Holmes (128 tackles, 1 forced fumble) and strong side linebacker Charlie Clemons (84 tackles, 2 forced fumbles) are both still available and likely would command less dollars than players like recently signed Patriots linebacker Rosevelt Colvin.

Detroit likely would prefer Claiborne to Holmes because of his youth (24) and the fact that he has been in Detroit's system for three years.

Another name of interests that has been bandied about is restricted free agent strong side linebacker Dhani Jones (82 tackles and 1 interception) who played his college ball at the University of Michigan.  Jones would require only 6th round draft pick compensation if signed away from the New York Giants.  Jones, just 26, fits the Lions profile of youth, speed, smarts and citizenship. 

Detroit would need to sign Jones to a bonus-laden contract and hope to make it prohibitive enough that he the Giants wouldn't match it.

SAFETY DANCE:  Detroit also could alter course and go after one of the surprising number of high quality safeties still on the market including former New Orleans Saint Sammy Knight, the Steelers Lee Flowers and Miami's Shawn Wooden.  By doing so, Detroit could elect to fix the secondary now that most of the top-flight linebackers have signed elsewhere.

Knight, just 27, had a breakthrough season with New Orleans (107 tackles, 2 forced fumbles and 5 interceptions) and voided his contract with the hope of grabbing big upfront bonus money, but so far interest has been minimal as team load up on linebackers.  Super Bowl MVP Dexter Jackson set the market, signing a five-year $14 million contract with a $2.75 million signing bonus with the Arizona Cardinals.  While neither Knight nor Flowers would command those kinds of dollars, both would be far less expensive than a top-flight linebacker.


Lions Report Top Stories