DETROIT (97.1 The Ticket) It seemed like the releases kept piling up as the Detroit Lions kicked Titus Young, Kyle Vanden Bosch and Stephen Peterman to the proverbial curb.
And it was a very tough decision to do so, according to GM Martin Mayhew, who chatted with Tony Ortiz about this decision and many others for 97.1 The Ticket.
“Kyle has meant a heck of a lot to our franchise,” Mayhew said. “Just his leadership, his football character, the way he carries himself, he’s a great example for younger players. It was a really tough decision with him and Peterman as well. Stephen is a great veteran, a great pro, hard-working guy, very consistent player. Those are things that as GM you have to make those tough personnel decisions sometimes and it’s not always easy to do but it makes our football team better to try to move forward at those positions right now.”
Was he as upset about the release of troubled Young, who was barred from playing last Thanksgiving after getting on the wrong side of the coach and other players?
“By estimation he had no trade value, and its my responsibility to know what his value is,” Mayhew said. “I didn’t think that was an option for us. I thought the best thing for us and him going forward was to give him an opportunity to go on and latch on with someone else. He got claimed by the Rams and I’m hopeful he makes the most of that opportunity.”
How active will the Lions be in free agency in 2013?
“I think we will be selectively aggressive in free agency, we have some holes to fill,” he said. “There’s some quality players out there, guys that can help us win football games. We are gonna locate those guys, target them and try to get some guys signed.”
And he said he’s “cautiously optimistic about Jeff Backus and Jason Hanson returning.
“I have not heard back from either player,” Mayhew said, adding, “I am cautiously optimistic on those guys. Both of those guys played very well for us last year. And well see what happens. I think in the next few weeks we should get an indication on both of those players.
Will Raiola get cut?
Our roster is constantly being updated. we are constantly trying to get better. It’s an ongoing process. I havent had any conversation with making that move. Right now we’ll keep working toward our goals, making our team the best we can make it.
He added they’re sticking with the “best player available” strategy in the draft.
“I think that’s the way to go, we have to get our football team better,” Mayhew said. “People talk about our needs and Jim (Schwartz) had a great statement a couple of years ago, what we need are good football players. We need good players anywhere that guys play that can make plays and help us win football games.
On the Lions free agents, he said, “I think for every one of those guys is a different situation. There are some guys that aren’t coming back, some guys we are in dialogue with about what their value is to the football team, what their values are. So it’s an ongoing process and we are still working through that.”
He had high praise for Brian Xanders’ role with the team, saying, “He’s gonna be sort of guy who can do a lot of different things. He’s got a very versatile background. He’s obviously working on our football technology right now.”
“Coming off last season I think we need to get better across the board when talking about players, or coaching staff, front office, scouting. It’s just continual improvement and trying to show continual improvement in all areas.”
He has high hopes for the team in 2013, so why is he confident last season was an aberration?
“Like I said earlier I know the people involved,” Mayhew said, “I know the work ethic, dedication, skill level, when talking about players in our lockeroom, our coaching staff, our front office. I have confidence in the people involved.”
How much did it help coaching the Senior Bowl?
“I think it was very helpful,” he said. “The opportunity to be exposed to those guys in their actual environment is really helpful. In the combine you get 15 minutes for an interview. On their visit here they are on their best behavior in a suit in tie. They’re on a job interview. In the Senior Bowl you get see what they actually do when they get here.”
Looking forward to the combine, he said, “I think it’s just sort of a reinforcement of what our college scouts already have. Every now and then there is a guy or two who jumps out at you and you know the combine helps you evaluate their skill level, talent level, athleticism in one uniform environment for everybody.”