The Detroit Lions’ interest in New Orleans Saints restricted free agent defensive lineman Anthony Hargrove is well established. Hargrove visited Detroit last month, and Lions coach Jim Schwartz said he thinks Hargrove could be an every-down player on the Lions’ defensive line.
But Tim Twentyman of the Detroit News notes a previously overlooked (at least by us) detail in the Lions’ pursuit of Hargrove: Hargrove’s agent, Philip Williams, was also the agent for Lions General Manager Martin Mayhew when Mayhew was an NFL player. And Twentyman writes that since the Saints would prefer to keep Hargrove, Mayhew and Williams might get creative in structuring an offer that the Saints wouldn’t match.
In other words, the Lions could put a poison pill in their offer to Hargrove that would make it difficult or impossible for the Saints to match, like making the contract fully guaranteed if he plays at least five games in Louisiana in 2010.
No team has used a poison pill since the Vikings and Seahawks did it to each other with the contracts of Steve Hutchinson and Nate Burleson four years ago. Mayhew doesn’t say the Lions will do it with Hargrove, but if they want to “get creative” in an effort to keep the Saints from matching their offer, a poison pill would be an effective way to do it.
And Mayhew does say his relationship with Hargrove’s agent is a big reason for his pursuit of Hargrove, a talented player who has had off-field problems including a one-year suspension for a third failed drug test.
“I probably wouldn’t even be in [discussions for Hargrove] if it wasn’t for my relationship with Phil,” Mayhew said. “We probably would have seen [Hargrove] as a talented guy, [but] there had been enough questions where we wouldn’t be at this point.”
The Lions are at least at the point where they’re considering signing Hargrove to an offer sheet. They have until April 15 to do it.