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03/11/14Author: Dave Birkett - Detroit Free Press

Detroit Lions’ Willie Young calm but excited as he awaits new offers

Detroit Lions’ Willie Young calm but excited as he awaits new offers

Before he left town after the Lions’ season-ending loss to the Minnesota Vikings, Willie Young got advice from Nate Burleson on how to deal with his upcoming free agency.

As they sat in the cold tub healing their bodies from a long season, Burleson told Young to relax and enjoy the process, and that is just what Young has done.

On what might have been his last full day as a Lion, Young spent Monday afternoon fishing with his father Willie Sr. and brother Avery, an offensive lineman at Auburn, on the banks of the Atlantic Ocean near PGA National golf course in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.

The three caught four small bass and a couple of tilapia, and they planned to spend the evening celebrating with a good steak and maybe a light run.

“I think it might be a little too hot for (the fish) right now,” Young said. “I thought it was supposed to be kind of cool today. It’s about 85 degrees. And I was doing more sweating and more wiping than I was casting.”

One of the more intriguing pass rushers set to become an unrestricted free agent at 4 p.m. today, Young is hoping those roles reverse before the week is up.

The Lions have been in recent contact with his agent about a deal, and Young should have a handful of suitors once the market opens, though he insisted Monday he has no idea what the future holds.

“I don’t think about it, I don’t follow it, I don’t get into all the Internet and all the reading and all that stuff,” Young said. “I just stay away from it, and I fish as much as I can and continue to fish as much as I can, like I’m sure you know I do anyway. What’s going to happen (is) going to happen, and there’s some things I don’t have any control over. At the end of the day, it’s all about sitting back and taking it easy.”

If the Lions don’t re-sign Young, they’ll have to add defensive end to an already long free-agent shopping list.

They need to add a starting receiver and safety, find help at cornerback and re-sign tight end Brandon Pettigrew and backup quarterback Shaun Hill, or get replacements for those positions.

Restricted free-agent running back Joique Bell is close to a long-term contract, and if the Lions get that deal done today as they hope, they’ll give themselves a little more spending room under the $133-million salary cap.

The Lions enter today about $10 million under the cap. They’re not expected to be players for high-end free agents such as Jairus Byrd and Eric Decker, but could be in the mix for second-tier starters Chris Clemons and Ed Dickson. Clemons, who played for the Miami Dolphins last year, would replace Louis Delmas in the secondary after Delmas signed a one-year deal with the Dolphins on Monday.

Former Indianapolis Colts general manager Bill Polian, now ananalyst with ESPN, said the patient approach usually is the right one when it comes to free agency, where teams tend to overpay for talent that is less than elite.

“Fans want you to go out and play fantasy football now, but that’s the last thing you should be doing because that money, if you miss, is gone and never comes back,” Polian said in a conference call last week. “So I highly endorse that approach.”

Young, likewise, has taken a patient approach to his situation even though, a few months shy of his 29th birthday, this most likely will be the biggest payday of his career.

A seventh-round pick out of North Carolina State in 2010, Young said Monday he doesn’t know what teams have expressed interest in him and doesn’t have a preference where he plays next year, but he expects whatever happens to be a blessing either way.

“I’m not stirred up, I’m not stressed about stuff with it,” he said. “I am very excited, though. I have to tell you that I am very excited to be in the situation that I am in right now. I don’t think about it, but I just try to — I’m just enjoying it. It’s going to be interesting to see the teams that are willing to put in a bid for me or what not. And just going to look forward and going and producing for whoever the final decision comes out to be with.”

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