The Detroit Lions.com wrote:
Lions hold season ticketholder-exclusive Town Hall Meeting at Ford Field
By Tim Twentyman
The Lions held a Town Hall Meeting at Ford Field for season ticketholders Monday night where president Tom Lewand, general manager Martin Mayhew and head coach Jim Schwartz took questions from the fans for an hour.
Schwartz joked early on how far the team has come in three years since the first Town Hall Meeting, which was held in 2009 and took place in the corner atrium at Ford Field. Monday's event took place on the turf at Ford Field with more than 700 season ticketholders in the stands.
The trio touched on a variety of topics including free agency, to the draft to the roster.
Here are some highlights from the evening:
Mayhew on re-signing middle linebacker Stephen Tulloch:
"That's been a very, very interesting market, the linebacker market. There are a number of good free agents who are out there right now. I think the D'Qwell Jackson deal (five-year, $42.5 million) was a really big deal and I think a lot of guys are looking at that and wanting to try to get the same deal.
"We've had very productive conversations with Stephen over the last couple days. We're very hopeful we can reach an agreement with him sometime soon and we're going to continue to purse Stephen and try to get him signed.
"I plan on talking with his agent tonight or tomorrow and we'll keep trying to get that done."
Schwartz on whether Jeff Backus is going to be ready for Week 1:
"Jeff is consistent as the sun coming up every day. He hasn't missed a game in 11 years, he's started every single one of them and he's a guy you can rely on. He's tough as nails and he's battled through injuries in the past and you know if it's a matter of rehabbing and hard work and toughness, that Jeff's going to be on the winning side of that.
"We're really happy to get him back. That continuity and that consistency that Jeff gave us, not just last year, but over the course of his career, is very important to us."
Mayhew on what his top priority is right now:
"As far as priorities now, we want to continue to get our good players back. Stephen Tulloch is still out there and we're working on Tully's contract, and we want to continue to look at the free agency market and we're really looking for value.
"We're definitely focused on looking for value and looking for guys with good price points and continue to build our roster every day."
Lewand on when will the fans get a sneak peak at the new Nike uniforms:
"The new Nike uniforms will be previewed next week, actually. We're going to get a chance to see all of the league's Nike gear starting early next week when we go to the NFL meetings down in Florida. Shortly after that, they are going to roll them out on a national scale.
"You're not going to see a lot of visual difference, design difference in the uniforms. It'll look very much the same as the uniforms that we have right now so everybody wearing your (Ndamukong) Suh jerseys and your (Matthew) Stafford jerseys, you're safe.
"What will be different is the technology behind the uniform. You'll see a lot more of the fabrics and the lines and the make-up that you see in quite frankly a lot of the major college programs. That'll be the big change for us out of the gate."
Mayhew on how negotiations are going with franchised defensive end Cliff Avril:
"Cliff is a very important part of our defense and we really wanted to get a long term deal done with him. He wanted a long-term deal and we ended up franchising him.
"As of right now, we're really focused on the free agency process. We're still open to conversations with Cliff and we anticipate speaking with him at some point during the offseason, but it's really not a priority right now for us with the other things we have going on."
Lewand on the NFL schedule and prime time Thursday games:
"What we think is that we won't have Thanksgiving touched. But it might take us out of the equation with other Thursday night games.
"Don't underestimate the impact you (fans) have on the TV networks. I had more than a few people at the NFL and NBC say, 'We heard about that Monday Night game in Detroit. We want some of that.'
"I'm not saying we're going to get a Sunday Night game this year, I don't know that yet, but it would not surprise me if we saw that on the schedule and if that was a home game in Detroit, then that's in large part because of you guys."
I attended this meeting last night and I have more to say than I have time to write at this time. However, here's a few thoughts after hearing what Mayhew / Lewand / Schwartz had to say. (Especially since Twentyman did a crappy job of capturing the good stuff from the event).
1) Mayhew didn't want to say anything until the contracts are signed but expect the Lions to announce a couple of deals with our own free agents in the next few days. Obviously he wasn't saying who but based on some other comments I took that as one of them might be Tulloch. (That's my conjecture).
2) The way he talked about Avril was very interesting! The sentence above is accurate but the emphasis was on "it's really not a priority right now for us"
. He's clearly frustrated with Avril's demands and I suspect he's just waiting for Avril & his agent to come back to earth.
3) Mayhew talked about trading picks for players. His example was trading our 5th rd draft pick for Corey Williams and that was a deal he'd "do every time". He went on, "A 5th rd pick for a starter vs. a guy who may never make the team. You have to consider that". He's actively looking for those opportunities and has discussions "almost daily" with other teams. Therefore...
4) Don't rule out us going into the draft without all the picks we have today. And - I suspect - there might even be linkage between my points 2 & 3. Nothing is off the table.
5) As for the draft; Mayhew is locked into the BPA philosophy. Period! That will not change regardless of our position strengths. So whoever is the best player on the board at 23 is going to be a Lion. All three were adamant about that! HOWEVER, character & work ethic do contribute to determining whether someone is the best player available. (So they have to be really sold on Jenoris Jenkins in order to draft him.)
6) Schwartz is very excited about this season. In particular our running game. He's highly confident that Leshore will be 100%. There will be "a tandem" at the position with both Leshore & Best. As he said, very few backs get over 25 touches in a game any more. He's committed to a stronger running game and feels we'd have been much more dangerous last year if not for injuries to both Leshore & Best. He even implied that's why we lost to New Orleans in the playoffs; that we're very comparable teams except for that aspect last year.
If there's interest in any of this I'll talk more later. Got to run.