Answering your emails
Once a week during the offseason I'll try to answer your burning Lions questions.
Do the Lions really want to re-sign center Dominic Raiola?
It sure appears that way. I don't know that it's top priority in mid-February with free agency two weeks ago and draft preparation ongoing, but president Tom Lewand indicated at the team's town-hall meeting last month that extending Raiola's current contract is a priority. The full quote:
I think (having about $35-million in cap space) enables us to do the kinds of things we're going to want to do from a personnel standpoint both in free agency and in the draft. Obviously with the No. 1 pick and two No. 1s, five in the top 80-plus, we've got to have that flexibility. But I also think it's important when you start talking about the guys that are currently on our roster, whether they're going to be free agents like the guys coming up this year like a Jason Hanson or guys who are in the last year of their contracts like a Dominic Raiola. Part of what we want to do as we're looking at building this the right way and for the long term is keeping those guys who are our own players, who've had success. Ideally we've drafted them and they've grown up within the system and they can kind of be the cornerstones of our team as opposed to trying to get enamored by the potential quick fixes that are out there.
Raiola will be a free agent next February. I know he catches plenty of flack from fans and didn't help himself with his one-finger salute last year, but he was a Pro Bowl alternate two years ago and he did start 104 straight games before his November thumb injury. He's worth keeping around (though a poor 2009 or the drafting of someone like Cal's Alex Mack could change that).
What are the chances the Lions re-sign Leigh Bodden as a free agent?
I'd say slim to none are about right. You never want to rule anything out, but the sides are ready to part ways. Bodden wasn't happy with the way he was treated in Detroit and he'll find suitors on the open market. And the Lions, no doubt, have their sights set on other free agents.
The one thing I do find curious, general manager Martin Mayhew said Thursday that Bodden's release was 100 percent cap related. If that's the case, then Lewand or someone should have to answer for the contract that put the Lions in the situation of cutting their best (albeit disgruntled) cornerback. Bodden signed an extension last summer after his trade from Cleveland that called for a whopping $8.6-million bonus to be due later this month. Sure he underperformed last year, but if Mayhew is to be believed the Lions would have kept Bodden of not for that lump-sum payment. And now, they have one more hole to fill.
I've written this already, but here's Mayhew's response when I asked him, in light of his comments, if he regretted how the Lions structured Bodden's contract: There's a lot that went into that deal and what a lot of people don't know is Leigh wasn't really happy with his contract in Cleveland when he got here. And so we restructured it, and who knows what would have happened if we hadn't done it. So I'm happy that we did it, happy that we know kind of where we are with him and there's some good players out there who can play that position.
What, if any, other changes to the front office are coming?
OK, so this is slimmed-down version of the three-part question I got from Myth. I think the Lions are pretty happy with the way things are structured now. They obviously don't believe the problems that led to last year's 0-16 season were systemic. Mayhew, Lewand, most of the scouting department and several assistant coaches all kept their jobs. A scout or two still could be let go after the draft, but I haven't had any indication that will happen.
I think Mayhew with Shack Harris as his sounding board is a nice 1-2 punch up top. As for Cedric Saunders, there were rumblings he was headed back to Tampa Bay to join the front office down there before the Lions extended his deal. He won't be an NFL general manager next year, but he's well thought of in Detroit (and elsewhere) and on track to be a player in personnel decisions for some organization in the near future.
Are the Lions interested in Derek Anderson?
You could insert Chris Simms or Byron Leftwich or a number of other free-agents for Anderson, but regardless my answer is the same: Ask me again after the combine. First order of business for the Lions is figuring out what they're going to do with their own quarterback situation. I don't believe anything's been decided there, though my best guess at this point remains they bring back Daunte Culpepper, release (or trade) Jon Kitna, don't re-sign Dan Orlovsky and draft a quarterback high in April's draft, with Culpepper playing the bridge to the future.
Labels: Alex Mack, Byron Leftwich, Cedric Saunders, Chris Simms, Dan Orlovsky, Daunte Culpepper, Derek Anderson, Dominic Railoa, Jason Hanson, Jon Kitna, Leigh Bodden, Martin Mayhew, Shack Harris, Tom Lewand