The Detroit Lions have already sent out their restricted free agent tenders. Since they haven't announced which players received them, however, we are only selectively finding out this news. On Tuesday, for example, it came out that defensive end Cliff Avril was tendered at a first- and third-round level.
Since the Avril news, we have learned from Dave Birkett that cornerback Chris Houston, cornerback Paul Pratt and safety John Wendling have received tenders. It's unknown currently what level Houston's tender is at, but we do know that Wendling's is an original-round tender (sixth-rounder for him). Pratt is an exclusive rights free agent, so he doesn't have the option of negotiating with another team.
Houston's situation is one of the most interesting of all the Lions' free agents. He has been in the league for four seasons, so he is a restricted free agent under the current CBA. In a new CBA, it's possible he could be an unrestricted free agent, meaning he would be free to sign elsewhere. If that ends up happening, Houston has made it clear he wants to test the open market, although he wouldn't be opposed to re-signing with the Lions.
"I enjoyed my teammates and, like I said, I think Detroit is up and coming, especially on the defensive side of the ball," Houston said. "With the defensive line we have, I think we’re going to be one of the top in the NFL, and as a cornerback, that’s what you love to have. Got (Ndamukong) Suh, (Kyle) Vanden Bosch, Corey (Williams), Cliff Avril and a couple more guys back there, with Louis Delmas and the rest of those guys. Like I said, I’ve connected with all of them, so at the end of the day, I wouldn’t mind being back."
Houston's statement is a bit odd in that he talked in the past tense ("I enjoyed my teammates"), referred to the Lions as simply "Detroit" and later discussed the defense by saying "we." Part of the statement made it sound like he has already moved on, whereas other parts made it sound like he still considers himself part of the team. Perhaps I'm reading into it too much, but Houston doesn't sound like a guy who is jumping at the chance to return to the Lions, and this may be why:
"It’s business, and with things going right now, every team is kind of trying to take the cheaper road out, which we expected," Houston said. "But at the same time, I feel like if they wanted me as much as they say they did then things would have got done a little bit earlier or right after the season or before this even occurred. But at the same time, it’s business from their perspective, and it’s going to be business on this end."
It will be interesting to see what level the Lions tendered Houston at. If he is still considered a restricted free agent in the new CBA, he would have to convince another team to sign him and give up the required compensation. I'm betting it's a second-round pick, so I don't know how much interest there would be in him on the open market. That could play a factor in whether or not he re-signs with Detroit as much as anything, so a lot could come down to the rules of free agency in the new CBA.