Lions have gotten done what they wanted to so far
The Detroit Lions started the offseason with a checklist of
goals to stay successful.
So far, so good.
All-Pro receiver Calvin Johnson had his contract extended;
standout defensive Cliff Avril was retained; veteran linebacker
Stephen Tulloch and offensive tackle Jeff Backus were
The only significant player missing from last year’s playoff
team is cornerback Eric Wright, who left as a free agent to sign
with Tampa Bay.
”The things that we felt like were critical, that we had to get
done, we got those things done,” Lions general manager Martin
Mayhew said Thursday. ”It would have been nice to add a guy here
or there. We haven’t done that in free agency – yet.”
The franchise, which became the NFL’s first 0-16 team in 2008,
that has been reshaped into a winner by Mayhew still has room for
Finding a starting cornerback to play opposite Chris Houston and
replace Wright seems to be the No. 1 priority.
Mayhew, though, insists he’s sticking to his
best-player-available philosophy when the team picks 23rd overall
in next Thursday’s draft – unless he’s a quarterback.
”It’s about not reaching for a particular position,” Mayhew
He would acknowledge there are ”four to seven” players on the
team’s draft board identified as ideal fits for its selection
toward the end of the first round, but refused to talk about any
player at his news conference a week before the draft.
Later in the draft, taking a No. 3 quarterback to develop behind
Matthew Stafford and Shaun Hill is a possibility.
”If we’re on the clock in a particular round and we’ve got a
quarterback that’s a value for us there, we would consider taking
that player,” Mayhew said. ”By the same token, we’re not going to
try to make that happen. If it doesn’t happen that way, we’ll go
out in free agency and we’ll get a third quarterback that
Mayhew had good news for the team to share and lamented having
to talk about some bad.
NFL rules wouldn’t allow him to witness voluntary workouts this
week, but he did see running Jahvid Best at a team meeting and has
gotten good reports about a player who missed much of last year
because of concussions.
”From what I understand, he’s doing everything as far as
conditioning and working out with everybody,” Mayhew said.
Detroit coach Jim Schwartz addressed the importance of making
good choices off the field during Monday’s team meeting, a topic
prompted by the marijuana possession charges facing defensive
tackle Nick Fairley and running back Mikel Leshoure after recent
traffic stops. Mayhew met with the players with a message of his
”The point I tried to make to both of those guys was that when
Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson get back, they have to answer
questions about your behavior,” Mayhew recalled. ”That’s
something that those guys should understand. That we’re standing
here talking, not about the draft, not about our plans going
forward and our bright future and what we’re going to do. We’re
talking about those guys’ behavior off the field.”
Mayhew, though, said what Fairley and Leshoure did would not
rule out any potential draft picks with documented histories with
”We’re going to look at each individual situation,” he said.
”We did a lot of homework on those guys last year. We’re doing as
much homework or more on guys this year, but I think every
individual situation has to be evaluated that way.”
Follow Larry Lage on Twitter at www.Twitter.com/larrylage