Lions agree to deal with DE White

Updated: March 4, 2007, 6:57 PM ET
Associated Press

DETROIT -- Free agent defensive end Dewayne White left the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for a better opportunity and more money in Detroit just like his former assistant coach did last year.

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White signed a five-year contract worth $29 million -- $13 million guaranteed -- on Sunday with the Lions to become a starter and reunite with coach Rod Marinelli.

"I believe 100 percent in coach Marinelli's philosophy," White said. "With that belief comes hard work and effort and all that is going to pay off. I believe that. That's why I came here."

Marinelli is entering his second year as Detroit's head coach following 10 years as Tampa Bay's defensive line coach, a job that helped White develop.

"The work ethic was there, he just forced the sense of urgency in me," White said. "And he just made me tough -- mentally tough, physically tough."

White fills one of the Lions' offseason needs, following a trade that sent defensive end James Hall to St. Louis for a fifth-round pick on Friday. White will likely start opposite defensive end Kalimba Edwards.

"We needed to upgrade the speed, the edge of our defense," Lions defensive coordinator Joe Barry said. "Quite frankly, we put a premium on pass rush. To run this system, to run this scheme, we've got to be able to rush the passer."

The 6-foot-2, 273-pound White made 14 sacks the last three seasons, playing in 16 games each year for the Buccaneers, and has 114 career tackles over four seasons.

"I think the sky's the limit for Dewayne White, just to look at where he's come from as a little young 21-year-old rookie to where he is now," Barry said. "That's what I'm excited about because he's really changed everything about him as a football player."

After backing up Simeon Rice and Greg Spires, he became a regular starter for the first time in his career during the second half of last season when Rice was injured.

White started just 13 of 60 games, but Barry said that fact is misleading.

"It was just circumstance that he was a young guy behind two veterans -- one guy potentially a Hall of Famer," said Barry, who previously coached Tampa Bay's linebackers. "We didn't look at Dewayne as a backup or the third end. Like this year when Simeon got hurt. We put Dewayne in and didn't miss a beat."

The Lions are hoping to add a wide receiver to play alongside Roy Williams and Mike Furrey, and free agent Kevin Curtis met with their coaches and front office on Sunday.

Free agent running back T.J. Duckett said he will fly to Detroit on Monday to meet with the Lions before visiting the New York Jets on Tuesday.

"I'm excited about having two visits set up, and having a few more teams interested in me," Duckett said in an interview with The Associated Press. "I know the Lions made a trade for a running back, so I'm curious what their plans are."

Detroit acquired running back Tatum Bell in a three-player, two-pick trade from Denver for cornerback Dre' Bly on Friday.


Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press