April 3, 2010 at 1:00 am

Tim Twentyman

Martin Mayhew might have help signing Saints' Anthony Hargrove

Anthony Hargrove had 42 tackles, five sacks and a forced fumble for the Saints last season. (Getty Images)

Allen Park -- If the Lions end up landing restricted free agent defensive tackle/end Anthony Hargrove from the Saints, the guy who will deserve most of the credit -- besides maybe Lions general manager Martin Mayhew -- is Philip Williams.

Williams is Hargrove's agent, and he also represented Mayhew when he was a player and the two remain close friends.

"I probably wouldn't even be in (discussions for Hargrove) if it wasn't for my relationship with Phil," Mayhew said at the NFL owners meetings. "We probably would have seen (Hargrove) as a talented guy, (but) there had been enough questions where we wouldn't be at this point."

But Mayhew made it clear that personal relationships, though they can be helpful in certain situations, will never get in the way in what's in the best interest for the Lions.

"We all have relationships and friends in this business," Mayhew said. "I have teammates that I played with that are working for other teams and have different roles or whatever, and it doesn't impact our ability to act in the best interest of our club."

Time is running out

Hargrove is a proven defensive tackle and is a player coming off his best year statistically (42 tackles, five sacks and a forced fumble). He would bring a Super Bowl championship, winning mentality and great character to the Lions locker room.

Hargrove missed the entire 2008 season after serving a one-year ban by the league for a third drug violation, but he took the time to complete a comprehensive treatment program. All indications are that he's turned his life around and was a positive force in the Saints locker room last season.

Hargrove was tagged with a third-round restricted free-agent tender, which means the Lions would have to give the Saints a third-round pick if they decided to give Hargrove an offer sheet and the Saints decline to match the offer. The Lions have until April 15 to sign Hargrove to the offer sheet, and the Saints will then have a week to match the offer.

It's been reported the Saints won't let Hargrove go easily, and Mayhew might have to get creative in structuring an offer.

And being close with Williams could help Mayhew in that scenario.