2009 NFL Offseason: Detroit Lions

Detroit Lions (Last Year: 0-16) Buy Tickets

2009 NFL Season Preview:

Veteran Additions:
RB Maurice Morris, WR Dennis Northcutt, WR Bryant Johnson, WR Dane Looker, TE Will Heller, OT Daniel Loper, OT Jon Jansen, G Milford Brown, DE Jason Hunter, DT Grady Jackson, DT Shaun Smith, DT Orien Harris, OLB Julian Peterson, ILB Larry Foote, ILB Cody Spencer, CB Phillip Buchanon, CB Eric King, CB/S Anthony Henry, CB Will James, S Marquand Manuel, S Calvin Lowry.
Draft Picks:
QB Matt Stafford, TE Brandon Pettigrew, FS Louis Delmas, LB DeAndre Levy, WR Derrick Williams, DT Sammie Lee Hill, RB Aaron Brown, OT Lydon Murtha, OLB Zack Follett, TE Dan Gronkowski.
Offseason Losses:
QB Jon Kitna, QB Dan Orlovsky, QB Drew Henson, RB Rudi Johnson, FB Moran Norris, FB Jon Bradley, WR Shaun McDonald, WR Mike Furrey, TE Dan Campbell, TE Michael Gaines, TE John Owens, OT George Foster, OT Junius Coston, OT Jon Dunn, G Edwin Mulitalo, C Andy McCollum, DE Corey Smith, DT Cory Redding DT Shaun Cody, DT Langston Moore, OLB Ryan Nece, OLB Alex Lewis, ILB Paris Lenon, CB Leigh Bodden, CB Travis Fisher, CB Stanley Wilson, S Dwight Smith.

2009 Detroit Lions Offense:
It’s the ultimate irony – the Lions finally have a franchise quarterback, but they can’t play him.

Ever since Detroit secured the No. 1 overall pick in the 2009 NFL Draft – which was probably around Halloween – I’ve always had Matt Stafford atop my 2009 NFL Mock Draft. I’ve said all along that taking Stafford would be the right move for the worst franchise in pro football; Stafford is a pro-style quarterback with an elite arm. His bust rate is pretty low.

So, why can’t the Lions use Stafford? Well, it has to do with what they did with their next two selections. As soon as Halloween passed and Stafford was secure atop my mock, I had the Lions taking a left tackle with their second first-round selection. Other than quarterback, left tackle is the most important position on the field; you can’t win if you don’t protect your quarterback.

The incumbent player at that position is Jeff Backus, a sieve of all sieves who has given up 9.5, 15.5 and 9.25 sacks in the past three years. And if that wasn’t bad enough, Backus had been whistled for 27 penalties in that span, a pretty embarrassing number.

Backus would be less of a liability at guard, so it made all the sense in the world for the Lions to draft Michael Oher at No. 20 or William Beatty at No. 33. Unfortunately, they opted for positions of lesser importance, while the Giants and Ravens, two of the more successful organizations in the NFL, came away with the two tackles.

With Backus penciled in on the blind side, the Lions have all but guaranteed themselves one of the worst pass protection schemes in the league. Right tackle Gosder Cherilus was horrific in 13 starts, surrendering six sacks and getting called for eight penalties. Cherilus will have to hold off the newly acquired Jon Jansen, who really struggled with the Redskins last year.

Detroit also signed Daniel Loper, who could push for playing time at left guard. Loper was a top backup with the Titans, but has never made a start in the NFL. Center Dominic Raiola and right guard Stephen Peterman aren’t too bad, but they happen to be two mediocre talents who are the top players on an anemic offensive line.

If the Lions play Stafford and he has to suffer through porous pass protection, the front office runs the risk of having another Joey Harrington on their hands. Conversely, if Stafford gets to play behind a good offensive line, he has the talent to become an elite quarterback in the NFL. But Detroit doesn’t have anything that comes even close to resembling a “good offensive line.” Stafford will have to sit for now.

Stafford or not, Calvin Johnson is going to be an unstoppable force once again. Aptly known as Megatron, the 6-5, 235-pound, 4.3 40 wideout had 78 receptions, 1,331 yards and 12 touchdowns in his second NFL season despite catching passes from the likes of Daunte Culpepper and Dan Orlovsky. One can only imagine what Megatron will be capable of once he has a top-notch signal-caller getting him the ball.

To complement Megatron, the Lions drafted tight end Brandon Pettigrew in the middle of the first round. I like Pettigrew a lot as both a blocker and a pass-catcher, but given the ineptness of the offensive line, the Oklahoma State product will have to do a lot more of the former as a rookie. Meanwhile, Bryant Johnson, Ronald Curry and rookie Derrick Williams will be competing to have the luxury of drawing single coverage across from Megatron. I’m not impressed with any of those options. Dennis Northcutt will be in the slot.

One other weapon Culpepper will have to work with is second-year runner Kevin Smith. Stealing the following from my 2009 Fantasy Football Rankings, where I have Smith as my No. 10 running back: Smith rushed for 976 yards and eight touchdowns as a rookie, which was remarkable when you consider that he didn’t receive more than 16 carries in any game until Week 10. From then on, he averaged 21 attempts and 83.9 yards per contest. Smith was also a factor in the passing game, catching 39 balls for 286 yards.

2009 Detroit Lions Defense:
It should come as no surprise that the Lions ranked dead last in numerous defensive categories last year. Among them are: points allowed (32.3 ppg), yardage (404.4 per contest), rush defense (5.4 YPC) and pass defense (8.8 YPA). On the bright side, Detroit somehow mustered 30 sacks.

Looking at the top of the page, it’s evident that the Lions made numerous acquisitions this offseason, but did they do enough positive things to vastly improve their pathetic stop unit?

In terms of stopping the run, I’d say no. There’s still a huge void at defensive tackle. The Lions attempted to fill it with the 6-2, 345-pound Grady Jackson. However, Jackson, who turned 36 in January, really struggled with the Falcons last year. And it gets worse – there’s a good chance Jackson will be suspended for the first four games of the season for taking StarCaps. Detroit also drafted the 330-pound Sammie Lee Hill in the fourth round, but there’s no telling if he’s going to pan out.

To their credit, the Lions improved their linebacking corps, so breathe easily, Detroit fans – the days of Paris Lenon and Jordon Dizon humiliating themselves are finally over. Ernie Sims is the only holdover, and rightfully so; Sims is one of the more talented weakside linebackers in the league, though he’s coming off his worst year as a pro. Joining Sims are Julian Peterson and Larry Foote. Peterson, acquired in a deal for Cory Redding, is an upgrade even though he was simply mediocre as a Seahawk in 2008. Peterson will be 31 on July 28. Meanwhile, Foote, who will man the middle of the defense, has made 80 consecutive starts as a two-time champion with the Steelers.

In terms of the pass rush, the Lions should be able to get to the quarterback a bit more often in 2009. Starting right end Cliff Avril had five sacks as a rookie last year, four of which came in the final six weeks of the season. Because rookie ends tend to struggle, there’s a very good chance that Avril’s sack total vaults into double digits. Dewayne White, who led the team with six sacks despite playing in just 12 contests, will play at left end along with Jared DeVries. Unfortunately, Detroit won’t be able to get much interior pressure with Redding gone. Instead, they’ll have to rely on under tackles Chartric Darby and Andre Fluellen, who combined for two sacks in 2008.

With a seemingly improved pass rush, Detroit’s secondary, the most revamped of all of the defensive units, will help improve the woeful 8.8 YPA and interception total (four) the team was guilty of last year.

The top three corners are completely new. Phillip Buchanon, formerly with the Buccaneers, was one of the top free agents at his position this offseason. Buchanon shined in Tampa Bay last season, so the Lions will be hoping that he continues to play well. Anthony Henry, currently penciled in as the No. 2 corner, would probably be better at safety. However, he’s still capable at the position and will be a huge upgrade over Travis Fisher. Eric King, the projected nickel, was a decent backup under Jim Schwartz in Tennessee.

Detroit’s second-round selection was used on Louis Delmas, whom I’m a big fan of. Delmas has been extremely impressive in minicamp thus far. Safeties tend to transition quickly into the NFL, so there’s a good chance that Delmas has a big year. Meanwhile, the weak link in the secondary is Daniel Bullocks, who struggled in 2008 after a major knee injury debacled his 2007 campaign. If the Lions find someone other than Henry who can start across from Buchanon, Henry could be moved into Bullocks’ spot.

2009 Detroit Lions Schedule and Intangibles:
The Lions have one of the worst home-field advantages in the NFL, owning a horrendous 47-57 record since 1996. But if you think that’s bad, check out their 20-84 road mark. That’s the league’s worst visiting record the past 13 years.

Detroit finished 0-16, and dating back to the middle of the 2007 season, the team is 1-23. However, Rod Marinelli’s group was competitive after four sloppy games to kick off the 2008 campaign. The Lions lost: at Minnesota by 2; at Houston by 7; vs. Washington by 8; at Chicago by 4; at Carolina by 9; to Tampa Bay after holding a 17-0 lead!!!; vs. Minnesota by 4; at Indianapolis by 10; and at Green Bay by 10. More on this later.

In the past four years, the Lions don’t have a real special teams touchdown (the only one was a fluke score by Casey Fitzsimmons off an onsides kick). Even worse, they’ve given up EIGHT returns.

Saving the special teams, Jason Hanson had a phenomenal 2008 campaign, hitting 21-of-22 attempts, including an amazing 8-of-8 from 50-plus. Even more shocking, Hanson did this as a 38-year-old.

Punter Nick Harris did a decent job, maintaining a 43.9 average despite hitting 24 attempts inside the 20.

Here are some winnable games for the Lions: Vikings at home, possibly without the Williams Wall (Week 2); Redskins at home (Week 3); Rams at home (Week 8); Browns at home (Week 11); Packers at home (Week 12); Cardinals at home (Week 15); 49ers on the road (Week 16).

2009 Detroit Lions Positional Rankings (1-5 stars):
Offensive Line
Running Backs
Defensive Line
Special Teams

2009 Detroit Lions Analysis: As mentioned earlier, the Lions were largely competitive in the final 12 games of the 2008 season, losing eight of those contests by 10 points or less. With the upgrades Detroit made to the secondary and linebacking corps, could they win about half of those battles this year? I would think so.

And that’s precisely why I was so disappointed in the Lions’ draft. If they had obtained a solid left tackle, which would have allowed Matt Stafford to play this season, they would have been one of my upstart squads. Instead, Detroit will have to sit Stafford and spend next year’s top-10 selection on a blind-side protector instead of a dominant defensive player like Ndamukong Suh, Gerald McCoy or Carlos Dunlap.

Projection: 3-13 (4th in NFC North)

2010 NFL Free Agents: Detroit Lions

More 2009 NFL Season Previews

2009 NFL Draft Grade:

I have to say that I’m extremely disappointed in the Lions. If they did everything I thought they should have, I was going to give them a surprising 7-9 or 8-8 record in my season preview.

You need three things to win consistently in the NFL: You need to have a quarterback; you need to protect your quarterback; and you need to get to the other quarterback. Having receivers, a running game and a run-stopping defense are important as well, but they’re secondary to the first three things.

So, that’s exactly why I felt Detroit should have drafted Matt Stafford, the top left tackle available and then the best defensive player on the board, preferably a guy on the defensive line.

Instead of giving Matt Stafford a very promising left tackle like Michael Oher, William Beatty or Eben Britton, the Lions refused to address the second-most important position in football. That means that if the Lions play Stafford this year, they’re essentially condemning him to becoming a bust. Jeff Backus has proven to be a stiff at left tackle, so if Stafford gets knocked around as a rookie, his confidence could be shattered.

And by the way, if you don’t like Oher and Beatty as prospects, consider that they were respectively drafted by the Ravens and Giants, two organizations that are almost always in the playoffs.

The Lions added some intriguing prospects to their roster like Brandon Pettigrew and Louis Delmas, but I’m forced to give them a poor grade for ignoring the proven blueprint to building a consistent winner in the NFL.

Grade given on 4/27/09: C-

2009 NFL Draft Picks:

1. Matt Stafford, QB, Georgia
I’m glad to see that Detroit’s new regime made the right move. There are a lot of people out there who think that taking Stafford is the wrong choice. Well, franchise quarterbacks don’t grow on trees. The Lions have to take him. He’s coming out of a pro-style offense; he has an amazing arm; and he’s very intelligent. Unless he receives poor offensive line protection – which shouldn’t happen if the Lions go left tackle at No. 20 – there is no reason that Stafford should bust.

For more on why Stafford won’t bust, check out Matt’s NFL Draft Quarterback Busts article. (Pick Grade: A)

20. Brandon Pettigrew, TE, Oklahoma State
This has nothing to do with Brandon Pettigrew. I think he’s a talented prospect who will be a nice weapon for Matt Stafford. However, you can’t pass up on a left tackle when you need one. It’s the second-most important position in the NFL. If Detroit doesn’t get a potent left tackle at No. 33, Stafford is going to bust because he’ll have the same terrible protection Joey Harrington had. (Pick Grade: F)

33. Louis Delmas, FS, Western Michigan
Once again, this has nothing to do with Louis Delmas. The Lions had to address the left tackle position because Jeff Backus is an abomination in pass protection. Without a stout left tackle, Detroit can’t afford to play Matt Stafford this year. If they do, he’ll be under pressure on almost every play, barring a magical resurgence by the offensive front. I highly doubt that happens. (Pick Grade: F)

76. Deandre Levy, OLB, Wisconsin
This is horrendous value. It doesn’t fill a need. Once again, no left tackle? I’m really disappointed in the Lions. (Pick Grade: F)

82. Derrick Williams, WR, Penn State
Derrick Williams is really fast and will be a great downfield target for Matt Stafford. Unfortunately, Stafford won’t have the pass protection to find Williams. Still, this is really great value. (Pick Grade: A)

115. Sammie Lee Hill, DT, Stillman
The Lions finally address some positional value, and Sammie Lee Hill was a third-round prospect. Very nice pick. (Pick Grade: A)

192. Aaron Brown, RB, TCU
Still no left tackle, eh? Well, you’re not going to find a stud in Round 6, so you might as well take solid value in Aaron Brown. (Pick Grade: B)

228. Lydon Murtha, OT, Nebraska
Ladies and gentlemen, a left tackle for the Lions! Lydon Murtha provides decent draft value and amazing positional value. Too bad Detroit didn’t take a left tackle at Nos. 20 or 33. (Pick Grade: A)

235. Zack Follett, OLB, California
I like this pick for Detroit. Zack Follett, a mid-round prospect, was decent value in the middle of Round 7. One could argue that Follett was a better prospect than Deandre Levy, drafted at No. 76. (Pick Grade: A)

255. Dan Gronkowski, TE, Maryland
I would have never imagined that the Lions would take more tight ends than offensive linemen in the 2009 NFL Draft. Dan Gronkowski provides adequate value. (Pick Grade: B)

Season Summary:
Though the Lions failed to win a single game and became the first team in NFL history to go 0-16, I’d like to argue that the 2008 season was a success for Detroit. Why? Matt Millen is gone! No more foolish trades and crappy receivers taken atop the draft! Nope! Now, the Lions actually have someone who knows what he’s doing. In fact, Detroit’s new management believes that Greg Lloyd is still in the league and Atlanta’s great free-agent signing a year ago was Michael Bennett. Yeah, things are definitely looking up in the Motor City.

Offseason Moves:
  • Lions sign WR Glenn Holt
  • Lions cut WR Billy McMullen
  • Lions sign OLB Rufus Alexander
  • Bengals sign DT Langston Moore
  • Lions sign WR Dane Looker
  • Lions sign G Terrence Metcalf
  • Lions cut OT Kirk Barton
  • Lions sign S Calvin Lowry
  • Lions sign G Milford Brown
  • Lions sign WR Billy McMullen
  • Lions sign DT Shaun Smith
  • Seahawks sign CB Travis Fisher
  • Lions sign CB Will James
  • Rams acquire WR Ronald Curry from Lions for DT Orien Harris
  • Lions cut OLB Alex Lewis
  • Lions acquire WR Dennis Northcutt from Jaguars for SS Gerald Alexander
  • Browns sign OT George Foster
  • Lions sign S Marquand Manuel
  • Lions cut DE Brian Johnston (failed physical)
  • Lions cut OT George Foster
  • Lions sign OT Jon Jansen
  • Lions cut FB Jon Bradley
  • Lions sign DE Brian Johnston
  • Patriots sign ILB Paris Lenon
  • Raiders sign WR Will Franklin
  • Lions cut OT Junius Coston
  • Lions cut WR Will Franklin
  • Lions sign DE Jason Hunter
  • Bears sign TE Michael Gaines
  • Lions re-sign WR Keary Colbert
  • Lions sign ILB Larry Foote
  • Browns sign WR Mike Furrey
  • Lions cut WR Travis Taylor
  • Steelers sign WR Shaun McDonald
  • Lions cut CB Travis Fisher
  • Lions cut TE Michael Gaines
  • Lions cut QB Drew Henson
  • Lions sign OT Kirk Barton
  • Lions sign FB Terrelle Smith
  • Lions sign WR Ronald Curry
  • Lions sign WR Will Frankin
  • Lions re-sign OT George Foster
  • Texans sign DT Shaun Cody
  • Lions sign TE Will Heller
  • Lions acquire OLB Julian Peterson from Seahawks for DT Cory Redding and a fifth-round pick
  • Patriots sign CB Leigh Bodden
  • Lions sign ILB Cody Spencer
  • Lions re-sign RB Aveion Cason
  • Lions sign OT Daniel Loper
  • Seahawks sign TE John Owens
  • Lions re-sign G Damion Cook
  • Lions sign CB Phillip Buchanon
  • Lions sign DT Grady Jackson
  • Texans sign QB Dan Orlovsky
  • Lions acquire CB/S Anthony Henry from Cowboys for QB Jon Kitna
  • Lions sign CB Eric King
  • Lions sign WR Bryant Johnson
  • Lions sign RB Maurice Morris
  • 49ers sign FB Moran Norris
  • Lions re-sign K Jason Hanson
  • Lions re-sign G Stephen Peterman
  • Lions cut CB Leigh Bodden
  • Lions cut S Dwight Smith
  • Lions cut TE Dan Campbell
  • Lions cut G Edwin Mulitalo
  • Lions cut OT Jon Dunn
  • Lions hire HC Jim Schwartz

    Offseason Needs:
    1. Left Tackle: In the past three years, Jeff Backus has surrendered 9.5, 15.5 and 9.25 sacks. And people say the Lions shouldn’t draft a tackle at No. 20… Detroit will find a new blind-side protector at that selection, allowing Backus to slide inside. Signed Daniel Loper and Kirk Barton; drafted Lydon Murtha

    2. Quarterback: When Quarterback A turns 37 in September; Quarterback B steps out of the back of the end zone; Quarterback C spends more time spamming NFL personnel than studying game film; and Quarterback D can’t beat out any of the first three, you know you need a new quarterback. Detroit has to find itself a new face for the franchise. Right now, that face is Matt Millen, and he’s not even employed by the team anymore. Drafted Matt Stafford

    3. Two Linebackers: Despite a down year, Ernie Sims is still Detroit’s top defender. The other two linebackers? Not so much. The days of Jordon Dizon, Paris Lenon and Ryan Nece have to come to an end before Lions fans go insane. Traded for Julian Peterson; signed Larry Foote; drafted Deandre Levy and Zack Follett; signed Cody Spencer

    4. Nose Tackle: With Leigh Bodden as good as gone, all the Lions have remaining from the Shaun Rogers deal is a third-round pick. Way to go, Millen! Detroit couldn’t stop the run all year. That will change if the team acquires a top-notch nose tackle. Drafted Sammie Lee Hill; signed Grady Jackson and Shaun Smith; traded for Orien Harris

    5. Cornerback: Leave it to Millen to trade a king’s ransom for a player who doesn’t fit his system. Bodden will be cut soon, meaning Detroit will have to find itself a new starting corner. Signed Phillip Buchanon, Anthony Henry, Eric King and Will James

    6. Guard: Even with Jeff Backus’ inevitable move to guard, the Lions will need another player at that position. As you can tell, Detroit’s offensive line is a mess. Re-signed Stephen Peterman and Damion Cook; signed Milford Brown

    7. Wide Receiver: The Lions did a great job of unloading Roy Williams, and even got away with grand larceny in the trade. That said, Detroit needs someone across from Calvin Johnson. Drafted Derrick Williams; traded for Dennis Northcutt; signed Bryant Johnson and Ronald Curry

    8. Tight End: John Owens, Michael Gaines, Casey Fitzsimmons, Dan Campbell… Please. The Lions desperately need a reliable tight end. Signed Will Heller

    9. Center: Like every other position on the offensive line, center must be upgraded.

    10. Return Specialist: No surprise that the Lions haven’t returned a punt or a kickoff for a touchdown since 2004 (they had one fluke return score in 2007 off an onsides kick).

    2009 NFL Free Agent Signings:
    1. Larry Foote, ILB, Steelers. Age: 29.
      Signed with Lions (1 year)

      Larry Foote is still a very solid inside linebacker who was let go by the Steelers for cap reason. He can still be an effective starter for a few years.

    2. Phillip Buchanon, CB, Buccaneers. Age: 28.
      Signed with Lions (2 years)

      Phillip Buchanon turned his career around in Tampa. He’s become a solid starting corner after looking like a bust early on.

    3. Anthony Henry, CB/S, Lions. Age: 32.
      Traded to Lions

      Anthony Henry’s days at corner are probably over, but he can still get it done at safety. Henry turns 33 in November.

    4. Maurice Morris, RB, Seahawks. Age: 29.
      Signed with Lions (3 years, $7 million)

      Maurice Morris vastly out-played overpriced bum Julius Jones, averaging 4.5 and 4.3 yards per carry the past two seasons. He’s a valuable No. 2 running back who will be available at a cheap price.

    5. Marquand Manuel, S, Broncos. Age: 30.
      Signed with Lions

      Should sign on as a solid reserve somewhere. Marquand Manuel had 83 tackles in 2008.

    6. Ronald Curry, WR, Raiders. Age: 30.
      Signed with Lions (1 year)

      Ronald Curry had back-to-back 700-yard seasons. It should be interesting to see how Curry fares in a real passing attack.

    7. Bryant Johnson, WR, 49ers. Age: 28.
      Signed with Lions (3 years, $9 million)

      Look up “mediocre” in the dictionary, and you’ll see Bryant Johnson’s mug. Johnson caught 45 balls for 546 yards and three touchdowns.

    8. Daniel Loper, OT, Titans. Age: 27.
      Signed with Lions

      One of the top backup linemen in the NFL. Daniel Loper can play tackle and guard.

    9. Terrelle Smith, Cardinals. Age: 31. – Signed with Lions

    10. Eric King, CB, Titans. Age: 27.
      Signed with Lions

      A very good depth corner who broke his forearm in November.

    11. Grady Jackson, DT, Falcons. Age: 36.
      Signed with Lions (3 years, $8 million)

      Grady Jackson started at nose tackle all year for the Falcons. It’s safe to say that Atlanta will be looking to upgrade this position pretty soon.

    12. Shaun Smith, DT, Browns. Age: 28. – Signed with Lions (1 year, $1 million)
    13. Terrence Metcalf, G, Bears. Age: 31. – Signed with Lions
    14. Jason Hunter, DE, Packers. Age: 26. – Signed with Lions
    15. Calvin Lowry, S, Jaguars. Age: 26. – Signed with Lions
    16. Milford Brown, G, Jaguars. Age: 30. – Signed with Lions
    17. Will James, CB, Jaguars. Age: 30. – Signed with Lions
    18. Dane Looker, WR, Rams. Age: 33. – Signed with Lions
    19. Glenn Holt, WR, Vikings. Age: 25. – Signed with Lions
    20. Jon Jansen, OT, Redskins. Age: 33. – Signed with Lions
    21. Cody Spencer, ILB, Jets. Age: 28. – Signed with Lions
    22. Will Heller, TE, Seahawks. Age: 28. – Signed with Lions
    23. Rufus Alexander, OLB, Colts. Age: 26. – Signed with Lions

    Detroit Lions Free Agents:

    Salary Cap (As of Feb. 8): $26 million
    1. Leigh Bodden, CB. Age: 27.
      Signed with Patriots (1 year, $750,000)

      One of the top press corners in the NFL, Leigh Bodden struggled last year because Matt Millen foolishly decided that Bodden could play in a zone scheme. Chad Ocho Cinco recently called Bodden the top corner in the NFL, though you shouldn’t read much into that because No. 85 is a renowned psychopath.

    2. Jason Hanson, K. Age: 39.
      Re-signed with Lions (4 years)

      Eat your vitamins, kids, and you’ll be as strong at 40 as Jason Hanson is. Hanson hit 21-of-22 attempts in 2008. More amazingly, he was an astonishing 8-of-8 from beyond 50!

    3. Shaun McDonald, WR. Age: 28.
      Signed with Steelers

      Any team that hires Mike Martz should go after Shaun McDonald, who caught 79 passes for 943 yards in 2007. Then again, any team that hires Martz should just e-mail its fans and apologize for next season’s losing record.

    4. Stephen Peterman, G. Age: 27.
      Lions re-sign G Stephen Peterman: 5 years, $15 million ($5.5M guaranteed)

      The Lions can get away with having Stephen Peterman at right guard; they have way more pressing needs to address. Peterman gave up four sacks in 14 games.

    5. Shaun Cody, DT. Age: 26.
      Signed with Texans (3 years)

      Perhaps saving himself from unemployment, Shaun Cody started the final three games of the year, filling in for an injured Cory Redding. Cody could be more effective in the 3-4.

    6. Dan Orlovsky, QB. Age: 26.
      Signed with Texans

      Dan Orlovsky will compete as a No. 2 somewhere. Perhaps he can become a starter if they increase the dimensions of the end zone.

    7. Will Franklin, WR. Age: 23.
      Signed with Raiders

      New regimes mean new quarterbacks. In Kansas City, however, a new regime means complete ineptness. Why in the world would you cut a lightning-quick 23-year-old receiver with potential?

    8. Paris Lenon, ILB. Age: 31.
      Signed with Patriots

      Paris Lenon is like Rasputin; he just won’t go away. Lenon beat out the stick-figured Jordon Dizon as the team’s starting middle linebacker, but struggled as usual.

    9. Moran Norris, FB. Age: 31. – Signed with 49ers
    10. Corey Smith, DE. Age: 29.
    11. George Foster, OT. Age: 29. – Signed with Browns (1 year)
    12. Travis Fisher, CB. Age: 29. – Signed with Seahawks
    13. Ryan Nece, OLB. Age: 30.
    14. Dwight Smith, S. Age: 31.
    15. Alex Lewis, OLB. Age: 28.
    16. Brian Johnston, DE. Age: 23.
    17. Edwin Mulitalo, G. Age: 33.
    18. Mike Furrey, WR. Age: 32. – Signed with Browns
    19. Rudi Johnson, RB. Age: 29.
    20. Dan Campbell, TE. Age: 33. – Signed with Saints
    21. Damion Cook, G. Age: 30. – Re-signed with Lions
    22. Langston Moore, DT. Age: 28. – Signed with Bengals
    23. Keary Colbert, WR. Age: 27. – Re-signed with Lions
    24. Travis Taylor, WR. Age: 31.
    25. Michael Gaines, TE. Age: 29. – Signed with Bears
    26. John Owens, TE. Age: 29. – Signed with Seahawks
    27. Aveion Cason, RB. Age: 30. – Re-signed with Lions (1 year)
    28. Stanley Wilson, CB. Age: 26.
    29. Junius Coston, OT. Age: 25.
    30. Billy McMullen, WR. Age: 29.
    31. Jon Dunn, OT. Age: 27.
    32. Jon Bradley, FB. Age: 28.
    33. Drew Henson, QB. Age: 29.
    34. Kirk Barton, OT. Age: 24.
    35. Andy McCollum, C. Age: 39.

    2009 NFL Free Agent Rankings

    Divisional Rival History:
    Chicago Bears: Take out a bizarre 2007 season where the Lions somehow swept the Bears, and Chicago has won six straight in this “rivalry.”
    Green Bay Packers: The Lions’ ineptness has no limit. The Packers have won 15 of the last 17 meetings.
    Minnesota Vikings: Pure domination. The Vikings have somehow won 18 of the past 20 meetings.

    Features to be Posted This Offseason:
    1. 2009 NFL Draft Grades (Pick-by-Pick NFL Draft Grades as well – Live on Draft Day!)
    2. Detailed season preview
    3. Fantasy football projections
    4. Positional rankings
    5. Daily updates on free-agent signings

    MISSING 2009 NFL Offseason Pages

    2025 NFL Mock Draft - May 12

    Fantasy Football Rankings - May 9

    NFL Power Rankings - Feb. 22

    NFL Picks - Feb. 12