Despite a shaky start to the negotiation process, the Detroit Lions and defensive tackle Cory Redding agreed on a seven-year, $49 million contract on Monday.
During the media briefing held later in the day, Redding admitted that there was initial concern a deal wouldn't be completed -- locking him to the one-year, franchise tag designation the Lions placed on him earlier in the off-season.
"(There) was a little hiccup so, to speak I guess, in the beginning," said Redding. "Then Martin Mayhew took over and when he took over, it was just a smooth transition. From what he did, I'm very pleased as to how everything went and it's just been great."
Although the Lions wouldn't release details on who initially handled the negotiations, some have speculated that vice president Tom Lewand originally met with Redding and his agent, Kennard McGuire. Lewand and Mayhew typically split negotiation duties, although Mayhew now handles much of the proces.
Redding was rewarded with the contract after a stellar 2006 campaign in which he led defensive tackles in sacks. The Lions believe, once paired with All Pro Shaun Rogers, the team will feature one of the most devastating defensive tackle tandems in the league.
"I think this defense is right where we need to be right now," said Redding. "Put the pedal to the medal in training camp. I haven't talked to the new guys yet but sensing their attitudes and talking about how things have changed with attitudes in the locker room, the attitudes on the field, the chemistry, I'm very eager and happy to get back and get around everybody so they can get a feel for me and I can get a feel for them so I can join into that chemistry and get this thing going.
"It's been a long seven months fellas, and I'm getting the itch to hit somebody."
Lions' head coach Rod Marinelli, who had remained a significant proponent of bringing Redding back under a long-term deal, was ecstatic with the move.
"It's great. I've explained myself very thoroughly for the last six, seven months and towards the end of the season," said Marinelli. "So it's a big plus for us and it's not just the player, it's what else he brings to the table."
"You guys saw him play last year. So you know that as well as I do, what he brings, the energy. That position is vital. The under tackle position is a key position in this defense. And one, he brings one of the hardest things to find, is a motor. And as you guys know that, as you watch through the league, finding a guy who will play every snap full speed, all-out, every snap, sideline to sideline, vertical player, the things we want. He learned that position very quick, he'd never played in there, and he ended up getting eight sacks.
"In the last 12 games of the year he led the league in sacks. He's got a feel for it and the energy and the toughness that I'm looking for. He's disciplined; he loves football. So if you've got a guy, and he's young, he's still going to go in as a fifth year player, so he's got a lot of years ahead of him, with a great motor.
"If you guys could have heard the other people that were interested in him throughout the league, a lot of tapes, and they saw everything we saw. He was going to be a highly pursued guy."
NOTES: The Lions have only signed two of their rookies with two weeks to go before the start of training camp. The team has inked late-round picks Johnny Baldwin and Ramzee Robinson. They are currently in negotiations with the rest of their picks.