Wednesday, March 08, 2006

It'd be better to ask, "Who aren't the Lions interested in?"

With the NFL on the verge of either labor peace or Armageddon, player rumors are flying fast and furious. The three hottest in regard to the Lions are as follows...

Rumor #1: Lions to target Jon Kitna in free agency.

Rumor #2: Lions interested in a trade for the Redskins Patrick Ramsey .

Rumor #3: Lions talk to Rams about Issac Bruce.

(Credit goes to the wonderful Mlive Highlight Reel blog for the links)

Lets tackle QB first, as that is always first and foremost in a Lions fan eyes.

Kitna or Ramsey? It comes down to three things. Who has the higher upside? How much of a chance are you willing to take? How much are you willing to give up?

Upside: Ramsey
Bigger risk: Ramsey
Cost of obtaining: Kitna

Jon Kitna has been a starter for both the Seahawks and Bengals, and neither saw fit to retain him as the number one signal caller. We've seen the best of Kitna, specifically in 2003, his best statistical season. As a reward, the Bengals drafted Carson Palmer and benched Kitna. If the Lions go with Kitna, you get what you get. And what is that? An established veteran who may take you to the verge of the playoffs. Odds are that it won' be much farther. In other words, a more personable Scott Mitchell. Maybe a younger Dave Kreig. But he'll only cost you money. Being a veteran, Kitna would be an easier sell as a starter to the rest of the Lions as well.

Patrick Ramsey, on the other hand, has had a couple of shots of keeping the starting job with the Skins. As we all know, he was unable to, for a variety of reasons. First, Ramsey had to run the loopy Steve Spurrier "Fun 'n Gun" offense, which was a known QB killer. Playing in that offense would setback any QB, let alone a rookie like Ramsey. Second, Joe Gibbs didn't draft him, and just plain likes the veteran Mark Brunell better. Don't forget Gibbs much prefers a conservative, ground based attack. But if you look at the 2004 season, where Ramsey and Brunell split the job, Ramsey put up a better stat line. Unfortunately, we all know how well a QB will perform over the long term under a coach that doesn't care for him. Not well at all, exhibit one being Steve Mariucci and Joey Harrington.

Ramsey was a high pick for a reason, so his upside could be much higher than Kitna's. Or Harrington's, for that matter. But there is no guarantee, as we have also seen with Harrington. Throw Mike Martz into the mix, and Ramsey may blossom. But you would have the exact same situation as Harrington, an unproven QB that Martz may be able to mold. Why wouldn't Harrington blossom, if you expect Ramsey to? So when you think about it, isn't 6 of Ramsey a half dozen of Harrington?

Obtaining Ramsey is another thing all together, as I wouldn't expect the 'Skins to just give away a former number one draft pick. It will take at least a second round pick, and most likely a lower round pick thrown in as well. Considering what you would have to give up for Ramsey, you would think that he would become the starter. So what happens to Joey? He gets cut, as you don't want to pay a backup 10 million bucks. So you replace Harrington with his doppelganger in Ramsey, and you still need another QB. Unless Shaun King as your backup enthuses you...

So to finally answer the question, Kitna or Ramsey? Considering the cost and the fact that the Lions already have Harrington, I'd go for Jon Kitna.

As for Isaac Bruce? 35 year old receivers coming off injury don't have many options. Even thought he was cut by the Rams, I wouldn't be surprised if he pulled a Troy Brown and resigned for less money. If he did leave the Rams, the only thing that would interest Bruce in the Lions is the Mike Martz factor. Why else would he come to Detroit? Bruce would be inserted in the same role as Kevin Johnson was last season. A number four receiver who would be expected to mentor the three diva wide outs. Would Bruce want to be put in a mentor position, or does he feel that he could still be a reliable number two or three receiver with the Rams or a another team closer to contending?

My feeling is that Isaac Bruce in Detroit is a long shot, at best...

Honestly, it's all pure smoke and mirrors right now. Everyone is making assumptions as to whom would be a good fit with the lions. As soon as a Ram gets cut or a QB is made available, the Lions are automatically thrown into the mix, right or wrong, just due to the Martz connection.

We won't know their actual plans till the free agency market opens, which should be tonight. You would think that we'll know the Lions true targets by the end of the week, at the latest. Now if the owners would just stop all the infighting, make up their damn minds one way or the other, and we can move on with the off season!

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