Lions sign linebacker Larry Foote

According to Mlive.com, the Lions have reached an agreement with former Steelers’ linebacker Larry Foote, who will play middle linebacker for them next season.

Foote, who turns 29 next month, is hoping to eventually sign a more lucrative contract after this season turned down the two-year offer.

Foote, a seven-year veteran, was a full-time starter for the Steelers for the last five seasons and didn’t miss a game during that span. Foote’s tackling numbers have declined in each of the last four years, from a high of 102 in 2005 to 63 last season.

Now we know why Lions’ GM Martin Mayhew passed on a middle linebacker with the No. 20 and No. 33 picks in last month’s draft when USC’s Rey Maualuga and Ohio State’s James Laurinaitis were still on the board. Mayhew knew that the Steelers would eventually release Foote and that he wanted to come to Detroit, which is where he grew up and attended high school.

Mayhew has done a nice job in his first offseason with the Lions. He added talent via the draft in quarterback Matthew Stafford, tight end Brandon Pettigrew and safety Louis Delmas and he has signed quality role players in free agents Grady Jackson, Philip Buchanon and now Foote. Whether or not all of his moves will pan out is still up in the air, but Lion fans have to at least be pleased that Mayhew has a plan and is executing it.

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Lions’ approach with No. 1 pick is all wrong

When Matt Millen was finally relieved of his general manager duties last year, Lion fans had a renewed sense of hope. Even though Martin Mayhew wasn’t a big, outside name that was coming in to save a burning franchise, Detroit fans reveled in the fact that he wasn’t Millen.

Up to this point, Mayhew’s first offseason has been relatively quiet. The Lions haven’t made any big splashes in free agency, but have added quality pieces to their defense in cornerback Phillip Buchanon and tackle Grady Jackson. The team also made it a priority to re-sign long-time veteran kicker Jason Hanson.

Much of the focus for Mayhew and the Lions revolves around the draft, where they have three selections in the first 33 picks. With major holes at quarterback, middle linebacker and offensive tackle, the Lions will essentially attempt to address two of those needs with the No. 1 and No. 20 picks.

But is Mayhew already screwing things up?

The Lions have stated all along that they wanted to get the No. 1 pick under contract before the start of the April 25 draft. So they began working with the agents of top prospects Aaron Curry, Matthew Stafford and Jason Smith roughly a week ago, and even have a even struck a deal with Curry, who is the top linebacker prospect in the draft.

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Curry would take less money to play for Lions

In a recent interview with Pat Kirwan on NFL Sirius Radio, Wake Forest linebacker Aaron Curry said he would take less money than 2008 No. 1 overall pick Jake Long if the Lions drafted with the top pick this year.

Aaron CurryHost Pat Kirwan: “If they came to you and said, ‘We want you, and here’s the deal we want to give you,’ would you do a deal with them to be the No. 1 player in the NFL draft? … Have you thought that through in a business sense with your agent?”

Curry: “Yeah, we have actually. If they were to approach us with a deal and it is feasible, my plan is to be in camp, on time, and having fun.”

Kirwan: “Would you do a pre-draft deal to be the Detroit Lions’ No. 1 pick in the NFL draft?”
Curry: “I sure would. I sure would. No doubt about it.”

Host Tim Ryan: “What if the deal was under Jake Long’s deal from last year?”
Curry: “I’d be more than happy to accept that deal.”

Kirwan: “Can you see yourself in a Lions uniform? Can you really see that?”

Curry: “After my visit to Detroit, I felt very comfortable with the coaching staff and the management. And, you know, they made the new changes to the logo which I fell in love with. And they brought in Julian Peterson ., who I’ve always been a big fan of. I see myself in that uniform, and I could also see myself playing beside Ernie Sims and Julian Peterson.”

Anyone who thinks Curry is a distant third to Matthew Stafford and Jason Smith in the running to be the No. 1 pick is dreaming. If I’ve said it once in the months leading up to the draft, I’ve said it a million times: Curry is the best prospect in the draft, he fills an immediate need for Detroit and he would come significantly cheaper than Stafford and Smith. But what it all comes down to for the Lions is whether or not they are willing to pass on a franchise-type quarterback in Stafford and whether or not they want to sink a significant amount of money into a linebacker corps that already features Sims (a former top 10 pick) and Peterson.

Lions still planning on signing No. 1 pick before draft

The Detroit Lions fully plan on signing the No. 1 pick before the NFL draft kicks off on Saturday. Who that No. 1 pick will be is the question.

Martin MayhewGeneral manager Martin Mayhew said today the Lions are “moving forward on getting something done” and there is a “very good” chance they will sign the No. 1 overall pick before the NFL draft starts Saturday.

“That was our plan,” Mayhew said at his pre-draft news conference. “We talked about that back at the Combine. That’s very important, and we plan on getting something done prior to making that selection.”

Mayhew said the list of candidates has “narrowed down pretty dramatically.” But he declined to name the candidates or discuss specifics.

The Lions have been talking to the agents for Georgia quarterback Matthew Stafford, Baylor left tackle Jason Smith and Wake Forest linebacker Aaron Curry.

Negotiations are more complex this year because of new rules relating to the last year of the salary cap. The Lions started preliminary negotiations with candidates in March.

Mayhew said the Lions could agree to the parameters of a deal with multiple players, but ultimately, they would agree to a deal with one player. He said they would make an announcement shortly after agreeing to terms.

This is nothing new – the Lions have said all along that they wanted to sign the No. 1 pick before the draft. But what is getting ever more interesting is the fact that this pick remains as much of a financial decision as it does drafting the right player. And if this is a financial decision for the Lions, then Aaron Curry should be their pick.

Curry is the best prospect in the draft, he would be cheaper than Stafford or Smith and he fills a need for Detroit. The only drawback in taking him No. 1 (besides the massive need at quarterback), is the fact that the Lions already have a decent amount of money wrapped up in their linebacker corps already, with former top 10 pick Ernie Sims and newly acquired Julian Peterson on the roster. Plus, even though scouts believe he can play inside, would Curry’s best position be at middle linebacker? Because that’s where he would play for the Lions.

But again, if the Lions are really putting a lot of stock into the financial hit that they’re about to take then Curry should be their guy.

Lions meet with Baylor OT Jason Smith

The Lions recently sat down and talked with Baylor offensive tackle Jason Smith.

Jason SmithThe Lions took a break from free-agent visits Monday to meet with college prospect Jason Smith, an offensive tackle from Baylor who’s among a handful of players vying to be the No. 1 overall selection in April’s draft.

Smith arrived in Detroit on Sunday and spent most of Monday in Allen Park meeting with front-office officials and coaches.

Teams are limited to 30 private visits at their own facilities before the draft. So the Lions, with five picks among the first 82, including two first-rounders, figure to host other top candidates the coming weeks. Most draft prospects have yet to take part in pro-day workouts at their college campuses.

Despite popular belief, if a team meets with a prospect before the draft it usually is a red flag that they won’t be selecting that player. Obviously that’s not the case every single time, but teams usually don’t like to tip their hand as to which prospects they have their eyes on, so they’ll avoid those players like the plague.

But the Lions realistically have their eye on their players: Smith, Matthew Stafford and Aaron Curry. Now, there could be a sleeper prospect that people are overlooking (Eugene Monroe maybe?), but those appear to be the three players that Detroit is focusing on. That said, it would behoove them to meet with all of those players since they have the No. 1 pick. Nobody selects in front of them in the first round, so it doesn’t make sense to try and throw other teams off. Plus, the Lions have said this entire time that they will negotiate a deal with the player that they will select before the draft. So who knows – maybe Smith is the pick.

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