Lions active early, sign Burleson, Vanden Bosch

Lions’ GM Martin Mayhew entered the offseason knowing he had to acquire more talent in order to continue his re-building project in Detroit, which is why he has been busy over the last couple hours.

The NFL free agency period just kicked off, but already the Lions have agreed to terms with receiver Nate Burleson on a five-year, $25 million contract, which also includes $11 million in guaranteed money. The team also signed defensive end Kyle Vanden Bosch to a four-year, $26 million deal according to ESPN.

Neither of these players will keep opposing coordinators up at night, but both should play significant roles for the Lions next season. Detroit has long needed a No. 2 receiver opposite Calvin Johnson and Burleson was productive in the Seahawks’ horrendous offense in 2009. He caught 63 passes for 812 yards and three touchdowns for Seattle, routinely outperforming T.J. Houshmandzadeh in the process.

After recording 12 QB takedowns in 2007, Vanden Bosch’s sack totals have been down the last two years, but he’s familiar with Jim Schwartz’s defense from their days together in Tennessee and is the consummate professional. At 31, he probably won’t tear up the stat sheet over the next couple of years but he gives the Lions’ weak pass rush some credibility and he’s a great locker room presence. He’s an extremely hard worker who is a perfect fit for Detroit’s (the city, not the team) blue-collar mentality.

The only problem with these two deals is that Mayhew overpaid. Paying a No. 2 wideout with a history of injury problems $5 million a year is questionable, but not as questionable as paying a declining 31-year-old DE $6.5 million per year. Vanden Bosch struggled without Albert Haynesworth playing along side him last season and he now becomes the Lions’ only pass-rusher.

Again though, Mayhew filled needs and just added two starters. It’s unfortunate that he had to overpay in the process, but rarely (if ever) do teams find bargains on the first day of free agency.

Photo from fOTOGLIF

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