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Lions Free Agent Strategy

Since the Lions have invested heavily in their Calvin Johnson stock, it’s time to diversify that portfolio.  As much as the Lions defense faltered down the stretch, priority one in free agency has to be addressing the offensive line.  Now that Eric Winston is available he should not be allowed out of town without a signed contract.  Adding Winston would not only address pass protection, but he is an excellent run blocker.  Given how inconsistent Gosider Cherilus has been, Winston would be a significant upgrade.  On the left side, Marcus McNeill would also be an upgrade over Jeff Backus.  Part of McNeill being available is that Jared Gaither played very well for the Chargers and is a lot cheaper than McNeill.  Add in the fact that he and A.J. Smith had a long and messy holdout, the writing was on the wall.  Yes I know that Backus has been there forever but it wasn’t a function of how good he has been as much as the Lions could never find someone better.  It appears Backus is looking at other teams while there isn’t any real news about talks with the Lions. That could possibly mean that the Lions feel that Backus would be a fallback (shocker) option.  With the Lions backup QB situation in flux, it becomes even more important than ever to keep Stafford upright.

The Lions are looking for a returner that can be a fourth wideout.  Ted Ginn would be a nice fit but he left Allen Park without a contract.  Eddie Royal would probably be the guy Mayhew would want, but he just signed with the Chargers.  Look for this to be addressed in the draft.

The linebacker situation is a bit easier to fix.  Johnathan Vilma may be waived by the Saints as they have real interest in Curtis Lofton.  This leaves Vilma, Tulloch and Hawthorne as options.  I would take the one that will accept the best offer versus throwing a lot of money at Tulloch.  They can use those savings to help sign Winston, McNeill or possibly both.  They could also opt to move Levy back to the middle but I would think they will get one of the aforementioned players signed.  On the outside a player worth a look would be Wesley Woodyard.  He played well when he had the opportunity with the Broncos.  Woodyard is also young and could be had for a reasonable number.

In the secondary needs are at both safety and corner.  It may make sense for Mayhew to bring in LaRon Landry. It would be a low risk proposition. There are injury concerns but he will be motivated to get another big contract.  An incentive laden contract would do the trick.  Landry would almost be an additional linebacker out there and would certainly bring some physicality to the back seven.  As far as corners, I am not in love with much out there that would fit under the Lions current cap situation.  Tracy Porter is talented but tends to have lapses.  The biggest question is how big a contract he is looking for. This is a position I would address in the draft.

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