NEW YORK -- With quarterback Carson Palmer signed by the Bengals and sealed as the first overall pick in Saturday's NFL draft, the Lions are on the clock. Unofficially.
And with two days to spend considering the sticker prices of the viable candidates for the No. 2 pick, Detroit might just do a little window shopping.
The strong likelihood remains, though, that Michigan State wide receiver Charles Rogers probably remains the Lions' choice.
Because Cincinnati signed Heisman winner Palmer earlier Thursday, the Lions can begin contract negotiations with all remaining prospects. And as the Bengals did, Detroit can complete a contract before the start of the draft.
Toward that end, the Lions have made phone calls to Rogers and the agents for three other players. But to this point the overtures to those three -- Arizona State defensive end Terrell Suggs, Kansas State cornerback Terence Newman, and Miami wide receiver Andre Johnson -- have been all talk and little action.
None of the three had entered into substantive negotiations with the Lions as of late Thursday night. The conclusion of the agents for two of the three? They are likely being used as leverage, to create some insecurity for Rogers, and to nudge him toward a relatively quick decision.
"Yeah, I would like to be the second (overall) pick," said Newman, who is in New York and one of seven prospects who will attend the draft. "But we haven't heard much more than small talk at this point. It's not like we're talking seriously, you know?"
Certainly the Lions are concerned with the so-called signability of Rogers, a top-shelf receiver who would be paired with quarterback Joey Harringtona and whose local ties would reap public relations benefits for the franchise. There is some history with agents Kevin Poston and Carl Poston that indicate the Lions' concerns are well-founded.
The Postons are regarded as difficult negotiators, agents who will hold a player out of camp in contract disputes for however long it takes. The lengthy absences of St. Louis offensive tackle Orlando Pace in 1997 and Carolina running back Tim Biakabutuka in 1996 are notable. Beginning the Steve Mariucci tenure with an AWOL first-round pick would certainly stymie the positive momentum the Lions have created this offseason.
It is likely the Lions are sending a hardly subtle message to Rogers: This is your career, the agents work for you and not the other way around, and you need to emphasize to them your personal goal for being in camp on time.
It seems that delivering that message, more than anything else, is the reason for the Lions' flirtation with the other prospects. Until the discussions are ratcheted up beyond mere get-acquainted rhetoric -- a possibility if the Lions conclude Rogers is not far superior to the others -- there is no other conclusion.
T.S. - "You don't have to love me, but you will [b]RESPECT[/b] me"