Lions land top targets

By Larry Lage
Associated Press

Allen Park — It will take time to determine if the Detroit Lions started the offseason by making all the right moves.

Without a doubt, though, the Lions got who they wanted.

On Saturday, Detroit signed the players it coveted most in free agency — defensive end Kyle Vanden Bosch and receiver Nate Burleson — a day after acquiring defensive Corey Williams in a trade with the Cleveland Browns.

“They were the No. 1 guys we wanted to go after,” Lions coach Jim Schwartz said. “To able to get it done is very gratifying.”

It also was expensive.

Vanden Bosch got a four-year contract worth $26 million. Burleson will make $10 million guaranteed as part of a $25 million, five-year deal. Williams has four years and nearly $20 million in base salary left on his contract.

“Bargains are only bargains if they fit,” Schwartz said. “We paid full price for the fit and to solve three of the biggest needs on our team.”

The Lions, as they promised, aggressively pursued a select number of players after adding numerous lower-tier acquisitions last year following their infamous 0-16 season.

Detroit’s 2-14 record in 2009 led to the team focusing its offseason efforts.

Schwartz traveled to Tennessee to woo Vanden Bosch and offensive coordinator Scott Linehan was dispatched to Seattle to court Burleson.

The second-year head coach sent Vanden Bosch a text message just after midnight Friday while parked outside his gated community, toting a bottle of Opus One and three stuffed animals — Lions, of course — for his three young children.

“He said, ‘I could be anywhere in the country going after any player and I picked you,'” Vanden Bosch recalled. “That meant a lot to me and that’s something I will never forget.”

Burleson, meanwhile, was startled to get a dinner invitation from Linehan.

“The effort of him coming to Seattle to make a personal connection and look me in the eye, I was very appreciative,” Burleson said.

The Lions also added depth on their offensive line, agreeing to a one-year contract with Jon Jansen.

After making a splash during the first two days of free agency, Detroit doesn’t expect to make more than a ripple in free agency or via trade.

“I’d be surprised if there was another big one,” Schwartz said.

Detroit, though, will have a chance to fill more of their many needs during the NFL draft in April.

The Lions have insisted their options are wide open, but they’re expected to select Nebraska’s Ndamukong Suh or Oklahoma’s Gerald McCoy on April 22 with the No. 2 pick overall.

Vanden Bosch raved about Suh, a fellow former Huskers star.

“He’s the best defensive back I’ve ever seen in college,” Vanden Bosch said. “He’s so explosive, so physically gifted. I made a point to watch him because I heard all the hype.”

Schwartz acknowledged the much-maligned Lions would’ve heard about it had they swung and missed on their top targets after making face-to-face pitches.

“You guys would’ve butchered us if they didn’t answer the door,” Schwartz told reporters.

Received 03/06/10 04:55 pm ET