Four-Down Territory: Bush to Lions makes sense

First down

The “Reggie Bush to the Lions” speculation is starting to take on a life of its own in the media.

That probably means it’s never going to happen, but most agree that it certainly makes sense for both sides.

Bush’s career has been resurrected in Miami. In the last two years, he has rushed for 2,072 yards and 12 touchdowns and caught 78 passes for 588 yards and three scores. He’s now a free agent.

The Palm Beach Post reported that Bush wants to return to the Dolphins, but they haven’t made an offer.

The Lions, on the other hand, have a serious need for a speed back to replace Jahvid Best, whose career is in jeopardy because of a brain injury.

Detroit has been trimming salary-cap space with the intention of getting involved in the free-agent market.

Whether there’s going to be enough room to afford Bush is another matter.

Willie McGinest, who played linebacker for 15 years in the NFL, is among those who believe that the Lions would be the ideal destination for Bush. McGinest, now an analyst for the NFL Network, called it a “great fit.”

“Getting him the ball in space, the screens, the draws, I just think that Reggie could have a great, A GREAT, finishing career in Detroit,” McGinest said. “Bring him in, create those mismatches.”

The NFL’s free-agency period begins March 12.
Second down

The Lions have quickly targeted safety George Wilson, who became a free agent and can be signed any time after being released earlier this week by Buffalo. Tennessee also reportedly is interested.

Wilson, who turns 32 next month, certainly would give the Lions some experience and leadership in the secondary. The only problem is, he’s not the playmaker at this point in his career that the Lions really need back there.

Wilson was originally signed by the Lions as an undrafted free-agent receiver out of Arkansas in 2004. The Bills picked him up later that year and converted him into a defensive back a couple seasons later.

Wilson finished second on his team in tackles with 98 this past season, but he had no interceptions and dropped two key potential picks late in games.

Buffalo has a new coaching staff, is in the process of a defensive makeover and wanted to clear out some salary-cap room. Wilson was due to make $2.9 million in base salary in 2013.

The Lions, meanwhile, are in search of some strong leaders to add to their locker room. Wilson (6-foot, 210 pounds) was a captain for five years with the Bills.

He’s also known for his community service and good looks.

In 2008, he was presented the President’s Volunteer Service award, the highest such honor given by the White House.

In 2010, Wilson appeared opposite Mary J. Blige in the singer’s video “We Got Hood Love”:
Third down

General manager Martin Mayhew recently made a point to stress that the Lions have a track record of being able to re-sign the free agents that they really want to keep.

The suggestion was that if somebody walks, it’s probably because the organization didn’t want him back that badly anyway.

This year is going to seriously test that trend. The Lions not only have a whopping 23 unrestricted free agents, they also have salary-cap issues.

If there’s another club willing to overpay for someone to fill a need, which happens in free agency, the Lions will be forced to move in a different direction. Whether they admit it or not, this time they’re probably going to lose some players that they’d prefer to have back if the price was right.

For instance, most assume the Lions will re-sign only one of their two free-agent linebackers, Justin Durant or DeAndre Levy. Most would agree that Durant, who has indicated he wants to return, is the preferable choice because he’s better against the run and creates more havoc in the backfield with his athleticism compared to Levy.

But that also means Durant is more likely to get a better offer from another club.

It’s going to make it all very interesting to watch play out. March Madness will have a different meaning around here this year.
Fourth down

The combined 2012 record of the Lions’ opponents for next season was 138-118, which is tied with New Orleans and St. Louis for the second-toughest schedule behind Carolina using that formula.

Five of the eight home games are against teams that are coming off double-digit victory seasons. Green Bay won 11 while Chicago, Minnesota, Cincinnati and Super Bowl champion Baltimore each won 10.

The Thanksgiving Day game, by the way, will be against Chicago, Green Bay, Minnesota, the New York Giants or Tampa Bay.

You can rule out Dallas because the Cowboys host their own Turkey Day game. Baltimore and Cincinnati are also out because the game will be televised by FOX and the opponent must be from the NFC.

The NFL’s complete schedule with dates will be released in April.