TSX: In-depth Team Skinny

Millen still searching for LB

TSX looks at the Lions' linebacker situation, possible draft priorities, and an update on the Lions' free-agent situation, including a complete list of signings, unrestricted and restriced free-agents, players lost, and more including contract information.

Team Skinny:

Lions president Matt Millen is continuing his linebacker search, still hoping to find the right player at the right price.

The latest attempt involved a $10.5 million offer sheet to restricted free agent Na'il Diggs of Green Bay, but Packers GM/coach Mike Sherman quickly indicated he would match the offer and keep Diggs.

Middle linebacker Chris Claiborne, whom some considered a fallback candidate to re-sign with the Lions, left to take a two-year, $5.5 million contract with the Minnesota Vikings.

The signing of RB Shawn Bryson, an unrestricted free agent from Buffalo, gives the Lions a candidate to backup James Stewart or compete for the starting job if he is fully recovered from knee surgery.

There is a possibility the Lions will also sign a receiver during free agency but they seem to be focused on a big-play offensive player in the draft. Wide receiver Charles Rogers did nothing to hurt his chances with an outstanding workout Tuesday for NFL scouts at Michigan State.

NEEDS/DRAFT PRIORITIES: WR -- The Lions need a big-play offensive player. With RB Willis McGahee recovering from knee surgery and WR Charles Rogers looking very inviting, it appears the WR is the weapon of choice to be delivered to second-year QB Joey Harrington.

DB -- Even with the signing of CB Dre' Bly, the Lions need help in their defensive secondary. They will look for either a safety or a cornerback in the draft.

LB -- They're hoping to get a starter out of free agency, especially after the loss of Chris Claiborne. They also need a strongside linebacker.



UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: OT Kerlin Blaise (good practice player who has not overwhelmed when he got a chance to play); CB Eric Davis (struggled last year, has lost speed and eventually moved to safety; not likely to be back); CB Donovan Greer (a late season acquisition when Lions secondary was totally depleted; not likely to be re-signed); LB Richard Jordan (coming off a knee injury suffered three weeks after he was signed in mid-season, doesn't figure in plans for 2003); DT Travis Kirschke (a regular in the defensive line rotation, dependable and versatile); RB Lamont Warren (an adequate third-down back until suffering a shoulder injury that required surgery three games into the 2002 season, not likely to be re-signed).

UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS (not tendered offers): QB Dave Dickenson (not tendered as ERFA).

RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: WR Larry Foster (tendered at $605,000 with no compensation; one of the few WRs with speed, the Lions want him back); DE James Hall (tendered at $1.318M with 1st-round pick as compensation; lost the starting RDE job to last year's second-round pick Kalimba Edwards, but can contribute in the d-line rotation).

EXCLUSIVE RIGHTS FREE AGENTS: RB Aveion Cason (tendered at $375,000; has speed, finally showed he could play with 62 yards on 10 carries vs. Tampa Bay last season); OG Tyrone Hopson (tendered at $375,000; can compete for a backup OL job); FB Stephen Trejo (tendered at $375,000; very solid special teams player).

PLAYERS RE-SIGNED: OG Ray Brown (UFA; $780,000/1 yr, $25,000 SB; 2003 cap: $450,000); RB Rafael Cooper (ERFA; $300,000/1 yr); OLB Donte' Curry (ERFA; $375,000/1 yr); QB Ty Detmer (cut; $780,000/ 1 yr, $25,000 SB; 2003 cap: $475,000/$450,000 base guarantee); DE Jared DeVries (UFA; $3M/3 yrs, $825,000 SB; 2003 cap: $925,000); OT Josh Lovelady (ERFA; $375,000/1 yr); DT Kelvin Pritchett (UFA; terms unknown); TE Mikhael Ricks (potential UFA; $4.7M/3 yrs, $1.2M SB; 2003 cap: $1.6M); OG Frank Romero (ERFA; $225,000/1 yr); LB Josh Thornhill (ERFA; $300,000/1 yr); S Bracy Walker (UFA; $680,000/1 yr, $25,000 SB; 2003 cap: $475,000); LB Brian Williams (UFA; 1 yr, terms unknown); CB Jimmy Wyrick (not tendered as RFA; $485,000/1 yr, $35,000 SB).

PLAYERS ACQUIRED: CB Dre' Bly (UFA Rams; $24.5M/5 yrs, $6.5M SB; 2003 cap: $3.3M); RB Shawn Bryson (UFA Bills; terms unknown).

PLAYERS LOST: LB Chris Claiborne (UFA Vikings; $5.5M/2 yrs, SB unknown); WR Germane Crowell (cut); WR/KR Desmond Howard (cut); LB Clint Kriewaldt (UFA Steelers; $2.38M/3 yrs, $420,000 SB); CB Todd Lyght (UFA; retired).

MEDICAL WATCH: No updates.

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