Since I last posted about the Detroit Lions late Friday night, the the worst run team in professional sports has been busy talking to, if not actually signing, free agents.
The biggest news, if you can actually call it “big,” was the announcement of a free agent tight end signing. The newest Lion is Michael Gaines, who was Buffalo’s starter at tight end last season. There really isn’t much to say about Gaines, other than he’s a solid TE known more for his blocking than receiving. 56 catches in 4 seasons does not a receiving threat make.
Between Gaines, Dan Campbell, Sean McHugh and Casey Fitzsimmons, the tight end position is fine. Not great, as there’s no breakout type players there, but the Lions are in good shape.
As for other free agents the Lions are wining and dining, the biggest “name” player visiting Allen Park HQ is running back Julius Jones. But that’s about all you can say about Jones. He’s a “name” only due to his playing for Notre Dame and the Dallas Cowboys.
His 3.9 YPC average in 4 seasons as a Cowboy, with only 1 year over 1,000 yards (2006), shows he’s more of a journeyman back, than a threat to break out. Jones has never lived up to, much like the Lions own Kevin Jones, the potential shown in his rookie season.
For those who thought Warrick Dunn would perk the Lions’ interest after being released by Atlanta, it not happening. From all accounts, Dunn is intent on signing with a contender, if his talking to Dallas and Tampa are any indication.
With T.J. Duckett rumored to be headed to Seattle, Kevin Jones’ a question mark with his knee injury, and nothing but suck for depth, running back is a priority. Instead of overpaying for the likes of a Julius Jones, I’m not all that sure the position couldn’t be filled just as ably, and with less of a cap hit, through the draft.
We all know linebacker is another HUGE priority. Despite that fact, the Lions want to talk to MLB Dan Morgan of Carolina, who’s played all of 4 games over the past 2 seasons. He’s untapped potential, as Morgan’s been an injury waiting to happen over his entire career. He’s never played a full 16 game season. After constantly having to scramble at linebacker the past few seasons, dealing with the injury riddled Lions careers of Boss Baily and Teddy Lehman, why the Lions would have interest in another injury prone player at such a vital position is beyond me. Let’s chalk it up to “Lions Logic.”
On the offensive line, the Lions have already talked with L.J. Shelton, and are now meeting with the unknown Corey Hulsey. (Literally and figuratively unknown if you believe Yahoo) Hulsey was last on a NFL roster in 2006, playing all of 5 games with the Raiders. From looking at his stats, what little there are anyway, Hulsey is nothing more than training camp fodder, a human tackling dummy. Nothing to see here.
The offensive line is another position that would be better served filling in the draft. Odds are quite good a solid tackle will be available when the Lions pick at 15. Vandy’s Chris Williams (My pick for the Lions in Fan Sided Blogs mock draft), Boise State’s Ryan Clady and Jeff Otah of Pitt are all possibilities in the middle of the 1st round. I seriously doubt the Lions will solve their o-line issues in free agency.
A candidate to replace Shaun Rogers (not in talent or actual performance, obviously) is defensive tackle Chuck Darby. Darby spent the past 3 seasons in Seattle, ending 2007 on the IR. More importantly, if you are Rod Marinelli, he’s a former Tampa Bay Buccaneer, circa 2001-2004.
I’m calling this a done deal, as Marinelli seems intent on making the Lions a northern auxiliary of the Bucs. Darby’s a decent player, a big body who can be a run stopper, but he’s no Big Baby. Then again, Darby won’t get winded walking back to the huddle, so let’s call it a wash.
So as you can see, up to this point, the Lions have totally underwhelmed me in free agency. If you are not a former Buc, injury prone, or extremely cheap, you need not apply.