Offseason Blueprint: Detroit Lions

Notable Free Agents: Dan Orlovsky, QB, Rudi Johnson, RB; Jason Hanson, K; Shaun Cody, DT; Paris Lenon, LB.

Projected 2009 Cap Space: $26,000,000

Draft Order: 1

Top Needs: A team doesn’t go 0-16 by accident. The Lions have major holes to fill at every position although offensive line, quarterback and secondary are arguably their biggest needs.

Offseason Outlook: Where do I start? This team is such an utter mess that it’s going to take new GM Martin Mayhew at least 2-3 years to rebuild the roster. And that’s assuming most of his moves pan out.

Even though it would be a long, slow process, Mayhew’s best approach would be to blow up the entire roster and start over. The two biggest problems with the Matt Millen era is that it lacked direction and he couldn’t spot talent if it fell from the sky and dropped in his lap. What Mayhew needs to do is build from the inside out and it all starts with the offensive line.

Many will argue that the Lions need a franchise starting quarterback first and foremost, but without an offensive line it won’t matter who they have under center. That’s why drafting Virginia’s Eugene Monroe with the first overall pick might be Detroit’s best move. Monroe is the type of player that could anchor the Lions’ offensive line for years to come and considering the team has a decent amount of cap space, Detroit could get a piece or two in free agency to help rebuild the offensive line as well. (Although the top available linemen – Matt Birk, Mike Goff, Mark Tauscher – are all over the age of 30.)

Even though it would pain most Lion fans to watch either Daunte Culpepper or Drew Stanton take another snap under center, the fact is that the other options aren’t that great either. The Patriots seem content to hang onto Matt Cassel and even if they weren’t, it would take multiple draft picks (multiple draft picks the Lions need to help rebuild the roster) and mucho dinero to acquire him from New England. And unless Jeff Garcia (already a failed experiment in Detroit), Rex Grossman or Kyle Boller gets your motor running, the unrestricted free agent market isn’t too promising either. In fact, the Lions’ best option at quarterback next year might still be on the roster in Jon Kitna. He was too happy with the way the team placed him on IR with a back injury midway through the season last year, but the coaching regime that made that decision isn’t in Detroit anymore. He could essentially be a solid stopgap at quarterback so the Lions could address the offensive line and defense this offseason.

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NFL News and Notes: Reggie Wayne misses second practice

Reggie Wayne– For the second straight day, Colts’ wideout Reggie Wayne missed practice due to a knee injury. If he doesn’t practice Friday, there’s a good chance he won’t play against New England Sunday night. (

– Steven Jackson’s status for Week 9 is still up in the air after being “limited” in practice on Thursday. Jackson is battling a quad injury. (Belleville News-Democrat)

– Cowboys’ TE Jason Witten will be a game-time decision this Sunday in New York. He did not practice on Thursday as he continues to nurse a rib injury. (

– Rookie Darren McFadden apparently has turf toe on both of his feet and isn’t expected to play Sunday against the Falcons. (ESPN)

– It might not be this week, but the Lions are expected to give Drew Stanton a shot at quarterback sometime this season according to beat writer Tom Kowalski. (

Media Link Dump: Wednesday

Here’s what sports columnists are saying around the country on a variety of topics:

Bud Selig– Mike Celizic writes that Bud Selig is not cut out to be MLB’s commissioner. (NBC Sports)

– Joe Henderson wonders aloud if this year’s World Series could get any worse. (St. Petersburg Times)

– Hugh Falk lays out Part 1 of his blue print on how to fix the BCS. (

– Johnette Howard writes that Jerry Jones is running the Dallas Cowboys into the ground. (Newsday)

– Bill Simmons hands out his predictions for the 2008-09 NBA Season. (

– Cedric Golden says that the San Antonio Spurs’ title window has already closed. (Austin American-Statesman)

– Dave Kriger notes that a fixed site for future World Series would make more sense. (Rocky Mountain News)

– Drew Sharp says the Lions should start second-year quarterback Drew Stanton on Sunday. (Detroit Free Press)

– Peter King notes that we should expect the NFL Replay Rule to be tweaked. (Sports Illustrated)

Kitna: Lions used injury to make change at quarterback

Jon Kitna is claiming that the Lions used his back injury in order to make a change at the quarterback position. Kitna was placed on IR on Tuesday.

Jon Kitna“Was there reasonable cause to put me on IR? Yeah, because they said there’s a bulging disk. But the reality is, most guys have bulging disks,” Kitna said in the interview.

“I really feel like I could have played last Sunday at probably above 90 percent health-wise,” he said in the interview. “I played the last two years most of the time probably 75 to 80 percent health-wise with different type of things.”

It’s hard to argue with the Lions for wanting to make a change, especially after they fired GM Matt Millen. They’re trying to figure out what they have on their roster and if either Dan Orlovsky or Drew Stanton can develop at quarterback. It sounds like Kitna understands that, but due to his competitive nature he understandably wants to play.

One had to imagine that Kitna would struggle this year without Mike Martz, which he has. His interceptions in the fourth quarter cost Detroit a chance to make a remarkable comeback against the Packers and that wasn’t the first time he has made terrible mistakes late in games. But he gave that team a true leader and made a lot of the players accountable for their actions. Eventually that’s what the Lions need in a quarterback, but unfortunately for Kitna it looks like his time in Detroit is over.

NFL News & Notes Week 6: Tom Brady undergoes successful surgery

– Patriots’ QB Tom Brady underwent surgery on Monday to repair the torn ACL and MCL he suffered in Week 1’s win over the Chiefs. Brady’s recovery time is expected to be 6-8 months. (Boston Globe)

Jeff Garcia– Jeff Garcia is expected to take over the starting quarterback role in Tampa again as Brian Griese continues to battle with an arm injury. Apparently even if Griese were healthy enough to play, Garcia would still get the start this week against division rival Carolina based on his performance last Sunday in Denver. (Tampa Tribune)

– Lions’ QB Jon Kitna will have an MRI on his back after not being able to practice on Wednesday. That means either Dan Orlovsky or Drew Stanton could start this Sunday against the Vikings. Orlovsky apparently has the edge as of right now. (

– RB Darren McFadden practice with the Raiders on Wednesday, but still might be limited this week. (Oakland Tribune)

– Broncos head coach Mike Shanahan expects WR Eddie Royal to play in Week 6 against the Jaguars despite having an ankle injury. That doesn’t mean Royal is a lock to play, especially considering he missed Wednesday’s practice. (

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