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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Report: Lions in final negotiations with quarterback Matthew Stafford

According to NFL.com, the Detroit Lions are in final negotiations with quarterback Matthew Stafford to become the No. 1 player taken in this weekend’s draft.

The Lions are in negotiations to finalize a contract with Georgia QB Matthew Stafford, who would be the No. 1 overall draft pick Saturday.

An accord could be reached as soon as Wednesday night.

Lions general manager Martin Mayhew said the team hoped to have a contract completed for the top selection — without naming him — during a pre-draft news conference Tuesday.

Lions officials have been negotiating with Tom Condon and Ben Dogra, who not only represent Stafford but also Baylor OT Jason Smith. Smith is believed to be the Lions’ second option should a deal with Stafford not materialize.

Should Stafford and the Lions agree to terms, the quarterback is expected to initially work behind veteran Daunte Culpepper, who impressed coaches at a recent minicamp. Stafford could receive the opportunity to compete for the starting job, which some NFL coaches and scouts said he could handle following private workouts and interviews.

Nothing is final yet, but if it does happen, this news won’t sit well with some Lions fans. But the bottom line is that Daunte Culpepper and Drew Stanton aren’t the answer. In fact, they’re not even close to being the answer and while Stafford isn’t the best quarterback prospect to come out of the collegiate ranks, there’s no denying that he has a good head on his shoulders and he’s got enough arm strength to make all of the throws at the next level.

Detroit has a ton of holes and GM Martin Mayhew will do his best to fill them as soon as possible. But it’s extremely hard to win in the NFL without a quality quarterback and if Mayhew truly believes that Stafford can lead the Lions for years to come, then it’s a good pick. Granted, that doesn’t mean that he will succeed, but Lion fans must now trust in Mayhew’s scouting and judgment.

4/22 Update: Lions’ beat writer Tom Kowalski is reporting that the Lions have a contract in place for linebacker Aaron Curry, but they’re in wait-and-see mode with Matthew Stafford.

Personally, I think that’s ridiculous. If the Lions aren’t completely sold on Stafford, then why take him? Why invest so much money on the most important position on your roster if you’re not 100% convinced that he can be the guy? This isn’t like deciding between an offensive tackle and a defensive end – you’re deciding on a freaking quarterback.

Is Matt Millen still hanging around Allen Park?

Cutler to be traded to Redskins soon?

Here’s he latest on the Jay Cutler trade situation from ESPN.com’s Chris Mortensen:

• The Redskins are acting with urgency in their pursuit of Cutler but it doesn’t appear the Broncos have interest in Jason Campbell. Consequently, even while the Redskins may be willing to offer two first-rounders for Cutler, they are trying to gauge interest elsewhere for Campbell. If the Broncos do deal with the Redskins, it would give them control of the 12th and 13th picks in the draft.

• The Lions are interested in Cutler and would be willing to send the Broncos the first pick in the draft. But the Broncos don’t want it. Rather, the Broncos would ask for the Lions’ second first-round pick (No. 20) and possibly their second-rounder (No. 33), or another first-round pick in 2010. The Lions don’t believe they can financially bear the burden of paying for the first pick in this year’s draft, as well as sign Cutler to a contract extension.

• The Jets and Buccaneers also are involved in talks with the Broncos.

• The Panthers have some level of interest and are not opposed to including defensive end Julius Peppers in trade discussions. However, even though the Broncos have a need for a player of Peppers’ caliber, they are reluctant because signing Peppers to a new contract, a necessity to complete a trade with Carolina, is cost-prohibitive for the team.

Mortensen is also reporting that a Cutler trade could happen by as early as Friday of this week, with Washington being the top landing spot for him. According to the Washington Post, the Redskins recently offered quarterback Jason Campbell to an undisclosed team for a second-round pick. But nobody knows if that report is accurate and if it was, who the other team involved was.

If you’re a gambler, I’ll update the Jay Cutler trade odds for you below:

Redskins 5/1
Lions 12/1
Jets 20/1
Bucs 20/1
Panthers 50/1
Field 8/1

Feel free to place your bets at any of our non-existent sports books here at The Scores Report.

Broncos to begin shopping quarterback Jay Cutler

Broncos’ owner Pat Bowlen announced that Denver will attempt to trade disgruntled quarterback Jay Cutler and SI.com’s Peter King estimates that the team would like to get a deal done before this month’s draft.

This development is in stark contrast to what the Broncos’ stance was at the NFL meetings last week. McDaniels, who created a firestorm of discontent with Cutler when he attempted to secretly trade him in February and the trade failed, seemed certain last week week he would be able to mend fences with Cutler in a private meeting.

A source Tuesday night said McDaniels felt he was at the point of no return with Cutler and had no choice but to pursue a trade.

Among the teams certain to be interested are Tampa Bay, the New York Jets and Detroit, which holds the No. 1 pick in this year’s draft. But the Lions may have been swayed to pick Georgia quarterback Matthew Stafford No. 1 overall after his impressive workout Tuesday on the Georgia campus.

Other teams are likely to be interested, including Cleveland, Minnesota, San Francisco and possibly Carolina. It’s a virtual certainty that the Bucs and Jets, both without a bonafide No. 1 quarterback entering the draft, will bid aggressively for Cutler.

This might wind up working well for all parties involved. Cutler clearly doesn’t want to play for the Broncos and quite frankly, I think he made that decision long before this whole riff with McDaniels began (i.e. he’s been upset since the day Mike Shanahan was fired). So he’ll be able to get out of Denver, McDaniels then has the opportunity to choose a quarterback that he feels best fits his system and whichever team lands Cutler, they’ll get a young signal caller with plenty of upside.

Personally I thought Cutler handled himself very poorly in all of this. He seemed to blow things out of proportion, wasn’t willing to truly reconcile with McDaniels and overall acted liked a 5-year old that wasn’t getting his way. Cutler better hope for his sake that the grass is greener on the other side because if he winds up in Detroit, he could wind up regretting all of this very soon.

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