Detroit Lions  

 

Lions move on without Smith, Peterson; Team tenders Stanton

  • By NFL.com Wire Reports
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Kevin Smith's once-promising run with the Detroit Lions appears to have ended.

The Lions declined to offer a contract tender to Smith on Thursday, meaning the running back is in line to become an unrestricted free agent, the Detroit Free Press reported Thursday.

Kevin Smith fought injuries the past two seasons with the Lions, missing 13 games with knee and thumb problems.
Kevin Smith fought injuries the past two seasons with the Lions, missing 13 games with knee and thumb problems. (Jeff Hanisch/US Presswire)

Smith gave the Lions reason to believe they landed a franchise running back in 2008, when the third-round draft pick carried the ball 238 times for 976 yards and eight touchdowns in his rookie season.

But injuries derailed Smith's career momentum. A torn anterior cruciate ligament in his knee ended his 2009 season in Week 9. He struggled to regain his elusive form last season, playing in just six games as the backup behind 2010 first-round pick Jahvid Best before landing on injured reserve with torn ligaments in his thumb.

Smith said he's "healthy as I've ever been now," and he has been working out regularly in preparation for an NFL future -- even if it won't be at Ford Field.

"I've been hurt the last two years. So, to me, it was more of a business decision," Smith told the Free Press about his release. "In this business, you can never be surprised. It's strictly business, and they did what they had to, and I'll do what I have to do."

Since Smith will become an unrestricted free agent once a new collective bargaining agreement between the league and its players union is reached, there remains the possibility that he will re-sign with Detroit. That appears unlikely, however.

"(Not offering a tender is) just a business decision that they had to make, and I'm just continuously working out, and I know one thing for sure: I'll be in the NFL next year," Smith said. "With the Lions, I can't say, but that was their decision."

In other Lions roster news, the Detroit Free Press reported Friday that the team had re-signed veteran cornerback Nathan Vasher to a one-year contract.

Vasher had 19 tackles and one interception last season.

"He really enjoyed his time there, and I think he feels like he can be part of a team that can get back to the playoffs," Vasher's agent, Michael Sullivan, told the newspaper.

A person familiar with the situation also told The AP that the Lions have released linebacker Julian Peterson and tendered contracts to kicker Dave Rayner, linebacker Zach Follett and fullback Jerome Felton. The person spoke on the condition of anonymity because the team hasn't announced the moves.

The team has also tendered a contract to quarterback Drew Stanton, according to Deryk Gilmore, Stanton's agent. Stanton began the season as Detroit's No. 3 quarterback but ended up starting three games because of injuries to Matthew Stafford and Shaun Hill. The Lions won two of his starts.

Lions general manager Martin Mayhew said shortly after last season that Peterson wouldn't be back with the team.

The five-time Pro Bowler fell out of favor toward the end of his second season with the Lions, leading to him being inactive for the finale without an apparent injury. He started 14 games last year, ranking second on the team in tackles, and started 14 games in 2009 after Detroit acquired him from the Seattle for defensive tackle Cory Redding and a fifth-round pick.

The San Francisco 49ers drafted Peterson with the 16th overall pick in 2000 after he starred at Michigan State and traded him after six seasons to the Seahawks.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

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