MIKE O'HARA

O'HARA'S BURNING QUESTIONS: How significant is next week's meeting with Suh's agent?

Posted Mar 22, 2014

Columnist Mike O'Hara on how the Raiders could impact the Lions' draft plans, Ndamukong Suh contract negotiations and the pursuit of a safety

Burning questions: how the Raiders trading for a quarterback could impact the Lions’ draft plans, significance of the Lions meeting Ndamukong Suh’s agent at the upcoming NFL meetings in Orlando and the Lions’ pursuit of a safety.

Q. QB shuffle: The Raiders made a pitch to acquire veteran quarterback Matt Schaub from Houston. Can that have any impact on the Lions’ draft plans?

A. Everything has an impact on the draft, and the Raiders filling an immediate need by acquiring Schaub should influence what the Texans do with the first pick overall and what the Raiders do at No. 5. That’s only logical as we look at it today, but the first round of the draft is May 8. That’s 48 days away, and other moves can be made.

Dealing Schaub, their opening-day starter the last seven years, should mean that the Texans are clearing the way to draft a quarterback with the No. 1 pick – probably Blake Bortles of Central Florida -- and will pass on defensive end Jadeveon Clowney.

Houston’s pick doesn’t affect the Lions. Most analysts already have the Texans taking a quarterback, and Clowney will be long gone before the Lions pick at No. 10.

The Raiders could be another matter. Acquiring Schaub should take them out of the market for a quarterback at No. 5. The smart pick for the Raiders would be wide receiver Sammy Watkins of Clemson – and that’s assuming he’s still on the board.

No way Watkins gets to the Lions at 10. In any deal involving the Raiders adding a veteran quarterback to step in and start, the real impact on the Lions is that it takes the Raiders out of the quarterback market in the first round.

Every quarterback that is drafted in the first nine picks leaves one more quality prospect on the board for the Lions.

Q. Meeting at the meetings: Lions President Tom Lewand said earlier this week that he expects to meet Jimmy Sexton, Suh’s agent, during the meetings in Orlando. How significant is that?

A. It’s a start to the negotiating process, and that’s all it is. Sexton is a respected agent who has negotiated contracts for many high-profile clients. He isn’t looking to make a reputation on one contract. He knows market value.

Sexton’s experience should provide a comfort level in any negotiations. He also represents former Lions head coach Jim Schwartz.

However, an agent works for his client, and if a player’s demands are far beyond market value or what a team thinks is reasonable, it doesn’t matter if the agent has one minute or 100 years of experience. The client has final say – yes or no – on what he’ll accept.

Q. How does that relate to Suh and whether he wants to remain in Detroit?

A. All we can act on is what Suh has said and done. He has never talked specifically about contract numbers, but he said consistently last year that he wants to remain in Detroit and be part of a winner here. People close to Suh have said the same thing.

Suh has been around team headquarters occasionally during the offseason, and he spoke with former Titans head coach Mike Munchak when he was in town to interview for the Lions’ vacancy.

Suh has done nothing to indicate that he wants to leave Detroit, but it’s natural that there will be questions until he gets an extension or a new contract.

One thing that is not a concern is Suh being ready to play. Nothing distracts him from being in top shape.

Q. Safety net: The Lions are fishing for a safety after releasing Louis Delmas. Who might they land as a veteran replacement for Delmas?

A. James Ihedigbo visited last week and left without a contract. Thomas DeCoud, released by the Falcons, and Chris Clemons, released by Miami, also had scheduled visits with the Lions at the end of the week.

Players try to get leverage on teams, and teams can do it, too.

There could be some of both going on with the Lions hosting safety candidates.