Warren Sapp Speculation....

Angry Pope

All Raider
Feb 2, 2006
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Speculation that he may be let go. Take it for what it is worth....

May 23, 2006

Lions and Wilkinson end relationship

Move to release nose tackle is not a surprise; Marinelli looks to Cody as likely replacement.

Mike O'Hara / The Detroit News

ALLEN PARK -- The Lions ended their waiting game with Dan Wilkinson by moving on without him.

The Lions released Wilkinson on Monday after several weeks of discussions resulted in no commitment from Wilkinson to continue playing for them or any indication of when he would join the team to begin working out.

The result was not a surprise. Coach Rod Marinelli is setting a tone of discipline while turning the defense over to young players, including the nose tackle, Wilkinson's position for three seasons on the Lions' defensive line.

Shaun Cody, a second-round draft pick from Southern California in 2005, is in line to take Wilkinson's starting job next to Shaun Rogers.

"We've got those really good young players," Marinelli said. "It's life in the NFL."

Marinelli is particularly high on Cody from watching tapes of last season's games and seeing him in the offseason workouts.

"He's a mobile, young guy -- strong and physical," Marinelli said.

Wilkinson played well at nose tackle, a crucial position on the defensive line, after signing with the Lions on Aug. 17, 2003. At the time, Wilkinson was a free agent after being released by the Washington Redskins.

Wilkinson had become unhappy with his situation in Washington, and there were acrimonious negotiations in the offseason because of management's desire for him to take a substantial pay cut.

There were no hard feelings in Wilkinson's departure from the Lions. Marinelli and Wilkinson are at a stage where their agendas and expectations do not match. Wilkinson has not taken part in any offseason workouts.

Team president Matt Millen has spoken with Wilkinson infrequently in the offseason. They talked again last week. When a resolution was no closer, Millen agreed to release Wilkinson.

Millen said he talked with teams about trading Wilkinson but couldn't find any takers.

"I've been talking to Dan quite a bit," Millen said. "Dan was sorting through some things we talked about before. He was talking about retiring, talking about playing.

"Dan was great for us. He played tough all the time. He was good in the locker room. He did everything we asked. We just kind of reached a decision to move on. He's a busy guy. He's got a lot of things going on on the outside."

Millen said Wilkinson said he would like to keep playing. In that case, why not in Detroit, where he was popular and respected by his teammates?

"That's a good question," Millen said.

There was no comment from Wilkinson.

Wilkinson was due to make $2.4 million in base salary in 2006 in the last year of a four-year contract. That money can be used to pursue other free agents, if any players become available who might interest the Lions.

There has been speculation in Oakland that the Raiders might part company with Warren Sapp, who had a strong relationship with Marinelli with the Buccaneers.

Wilkinson, 33, has played 12 pro seasons. He lives in the Washington area and has successful business interests away from football.

The defensive line will have a new look in 2006, even with many players returning. The tackles have been shuffled.

Marcus Bell has been a backup nose tackle the last two seasons, but two veteran free agents were signed -- Tyoka Jackson and Damian Gregory. Both played for Tampa Bay when Marinelli coached the defensive line.

There were many in the NFL who were skeptical when the Lions signed Wilkinson to a four-year contract late in training camp in 2003. The 2002 season, his last in Washington, had been his least effective.

Wilkinson had missed just three games in his previous eight seasons, but a calf injury reduced his effectiveness in 2002. He played in 12 games, starting four, and finished the season on injured reserve. Wilkinson had a career-low 12 tackles and was held without a sack for the only time in his career.

He fit in immediately in Detroit. He was quick and commanded enough attention inside to open the way for Rogers to emerge as one of the league's top tackles. Rogers has made the Pro Bowl the last two seasons and credited Wilkinson with his success.

Wilkinson has played in 185 games, with 182 starts. Cincinnati drafted him first overall in 1994 out of Ohio State. He signed with Washington as a free agent in 1998.

Personnel dept.

The Lions have backed off on signing free-agent receiver Az-Zahir Hakim . Hakim, a Lion from 2002-04 who played for New Orleans last season, visited the Lions recently.

"We like what we have here," Millen said.

Linebacker James Davis , a restricted free agent, has signed his one-year tender offer. Davis was the last of the restricted free agents to sign.
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