Did the Lions pass on a linebacker because of Larry Foote?

Tom Kowalski of Mlive.com speculates that the reason why the Lions passed on a middle linebacker in last weekend’s draft was because they knew the Steelers would release Larry Foote shortly thereafter.

Let’s put a couple of factors together and see what we come up with — the Detroit Lions passed on a taking a middle linebacker in the first two rounds, Pittsburgh inside linebacker Larry Foote was just released in a widely anticipated move and Foote has not hidden his desire to return to Detroit and play for his hometown Lions.

Many Lions fans were surprised when the team passed on Ohio State’s James Laurinaitis and USC’s Rey Maualuga with the team’s No. 20 and No. 33 selections. It’s possible the Lions knew that Foote would be released soon and they might be in the running to sign him. Another factor why the Lions would pass on a rookie and try to get Foote — or another veteran — is the fact that defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham has a well-documented disdain for starting a lot of rookies at the same time.

Foote, who will be 29 in June, has played seven years in the league and has started the last five seasons and hasn’t missed a game due to injury in the last six years. He’s also helped the Steelers win a couple of those Lombardi Trophy things.

Foote graduated from Pershing High School in Detroit and already expressed interest in playing in his home state earlier this offseason. If Mayhew did pass on a linebacker in the draft knowing that Foote would be available soon thereafter, it was a clever move on his part and it would certainly help answer some questions regarding the Lions draft.

If the Lions do sign Foote, then the selections of Bradon Pettigrew and Louis Delmas in the first two rounds look pretty solid – especially considering both players were the top-rated prospects at their respective positions.

Of course, if Foote signs with someone else, then this move will backfire horribly because Detroit would be left with Jordon Dizon as their starting middle linebacker. And given that Matt Millen drafted Dizon, chances are the young man doesn’t have much upside.

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