Cedric Saunders, now in his 10th year with the Lions, enters his first season as senior vice president of football operations after serving as vice president of football operations for the past seven seasons. In his second season with the club (2007), Saunders was promoted to director of football operations. He came to Detroit after spending the previous five seasons with Tampa Bay (2001-05).
Saunders works closely with Executive Vice President of Football Operations and General Manager Martin Mayhew and oversees the team’s football operations, including the coordination of the year-round football calendar. Among his football operations duties, Saunders oversees the Lions’ player development department, video department, equipment operations, team travel, athletic training staff, strength and conditioning, cafeteria operations, security department and human resources. Along with the coordination of those departments, he handles the annual budgets for the coaching staff, coaching support staff and player personnel department.
Saunders also assists with player personnel, including the development of the team’s roster, college scouting and on-campus visits and pro talent evaluation. He plays a role in the coordination of the team’s free agency and draft agenda, including free agent and draft eligible visits. In addition to his various football operations responsibilities, he also assists with contract negotiations.
In 2014, Saunders attended the NFL Career Development Symposium for General Manager and Head Coach talent held at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, one of the most prestigious business schools in the country.
While directing the player development department in Tampa Bay, Saunders helped get players involved in continuing education programs, off-season internships and jobs to prepare for possible post-NFL careers. He was also the main contact between the players and the club’s community relations department and encouraged player involvement in charities and community activities.
Prior to joining the Buccaneers, Saunders spent the previous two seasons as an area scout for the Kansas City Chiefs, evaluating college talent in the Midwest. A native of Sarasota, Fla., Saunders was in training camp for three seasons with Tampa Bay (1994-96), and saw action on both the practice squad and active roster in 1995 as a tight end and special teams player. He also played with the Scottish Claymores of NFL Europe in 1997.
A four-year starter at Ohio State, Saunders posted 68 career receptions for 853 yards for the Buckeyes. He recorded 27 catches and earned second-team All-Big 10 honors as a senior in 1993 and was an honorable mention selection as a junior.
Saunders and his wife, Bashi, have two daughters, Reegan and Charlie Bleu, and two sons, Cayden and Kai.