Lions ready to pounce on Diggs

Na'il Diggs, the only starting linebacker remaining on Green Bay's roster, visited with the Detroit Lions on Tuesday, according to reports. Diggs is a restricted free agent and coming off his best season with the Packers.<p>

Like Green Bay, the Lions are shopping for linebackers but the pool of free agents is drying up quickly. Diggs, selected in the fourth round of the 2000 NFL draft out of Ohio State by Green Bay, started all 16 games at outside linebacker last season. He had three sacks and two interceptions.

The Packers are vigoursly working on trying to sign restricted free agent defensive end Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila to a long-term contract. But Green Bay is reportedly about $5 million under the salary cap, which could make it difficult to sign both Gbaja-Biamila and Diggs to long-term deals.

Plus, Gbaja-Biamila is being pursued by the Philadelphia Eagles, who are about $13 million under the cap. Diggs also has drawn interest from the Eagles.

"We've got to add to the depth of our linebacker group," coach Steve Mariucci told the Detroit News. "It's got to fit (the salary cap). It's got to work."

The Lions have lost one linebacker – Clint Kriewaldt, a four-year backup who signed with Pittsburgh – and Chris Claiborne is on the market. The Lions brought in Nate Wayne a day after he visited with the Eagles. But Wayne decided to sign with the Eagles despite a more lucrative offer from the Lions. Detroit apparently wanted Wayne to play some inside linebacker while Philadelphia will use him exclusively at his natural weakside position.

The Lions could make a substantial offer to Diggs that would be difficult for the Packers to match. Green Bay would receive a fourth round pick as compensation for Diggs, who was tendered the minimum $605,000 by the Packers prior to the start of free agency. If the Packers would have offered Diggs a first-round tender, his salary would be $1.3 million for 2003 but they would receive a first-round draft pick if they decide not match an offer from another team.

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