We are inching closer and closer to free agency, and although the focus typically tends to be on the big names from other teams, the Lions have some players that are set to become unrestricted free agents when the clock strikes midnight in the Eastern time zone. There has already been some talk about the Lions' soon-to-be free agents, but nothing too detailed. Actually, most of the discussion has revolved around Larry Foote, who is on his way to becoming a free agent after he and the Lions were unable to work out a new deal. There doesn't appear to be anything new on where Foote stands with the Lions, but that isn't the case for some other players who are on the verge of free agency.
The Detroit Lions apparently will not sign cornerback Will James nor safety Marquand Manuel before they become unrestricted free agents at midnight tonight.
"Doesn’t look like anything will get done," Ronald Slavin, the agent for both players, wrote in an e-mail this afternoon.
This doesn't mean that the Lions will not re-sign James and/or Manuel at some point; it's just that a deal will not happen before they hit the open market. In the past it has been hinted at that the Lions would like to bring back James and Manuel as well as some of their other free agents, so it's not a guarantee that hitting the open market means neither will be back. That goes for all of the Lions' free agents, actually. None of them have been re-signed yet as far as I know, but that doesn't mean they for sure won't be back next season, as Will Heller's situation shows.
The agent for Lions tight end Will Heller said he's had conversations with Lions general manager Martin Mayhew and he's optimistic a deal with get done, possibly as soon as Friday, to keep Heller in Detroit.
"Will likes it there in Detroit and it's a good situation for him," agent Phillip Williams said.
The Lions' full list of unrestricted free agents includes James, Manuel, Heller, Daunte Culpepper, Patrick Ramsey, Casey FitzSimmons, Jon Jansen, Damion Cook, Vinny Ciurciu, and Anthony Henry. When all is said and done I'd expect at least a few of those players to be back with the team next season.