Lions general manager Martin Mayhew says negotiations between the team and kicker Jason Hanson (middle) continue. (Daniel Mears/Detroit News)
Phoenix — Martin Mayhew said Monday that while there still were some free agents he was pursuing, most of the heavy lifting was done.
"Yeah, I think in terms of those big contracts, I think they're starting to wind down from a free agency standpoint," Mayhew said, taking a lunch break during the league meetings. "We got the draft coming up and we've got some of our own guys who we're trying to sign."
Mayhew acknowledged negotiations continue with veteran kicker Jason Hanson and possibly defensive end Lawrence Jackson.
"There will be some other signings, I would think," he said. "And then obviously after the draft we have a period of time to continue to try to add to our roster and look for guys whether it's signing free agents or street free agents or trades, whatever the possibilities are."
The team was believed to be tight against the cap, but according to a Yahoo Sports report, wide receiver Calvin Johnson restructured his contract to save the team another $3.4 million. According to the report, he transferred the bulk of his $25 million base into a bonus, lowering his cap hit.
"We've got some challenges from a cap standpoint, but we have some flexibility to do some things, make some moves," Mayhew said.
Mayhew made it clear, though, that the inability to work a contract extension for quarterback Matthew Stafford was not hampering the process. Mayhew said there was no expectation a deal would get done before free agency.
"No, not at all," he said. "I talked to you guys before about that being a process. As I said before, the contracts for the good players are more difficult to do. For the players that aren't good, you just tell them what you plan on paying them. That's the way it goes, but I'm not at all disappointed.
"It's going to be a process to get that done, and we're working on getting that done right now."
When told fans were voicing their displeasure with Stafford for not doing a deal, Mayhew defended him.
"We've been very deliberate in the process," Mayhew said. "We haven't been pressing him. There's never been a sense of extreme urgency on our part that we had to rush and get something done. He's by no means putting the brakes on.
"It's just a process, and it's a negotiation process back and forth. There's nothing out of the ordinary about it. There's nothing about the time table that is surprising or disappointing."
Monday was the first time Mayhew spoke publicly about signing $83 million worth of free agents last week — running back Reggie Bush, safety Glover Quin, defensive end Jason Jones, cornerback Chris Houston and safety Louis Delmas.
He admitted feeling the heat.
"Let me just say this, when you win four games, you better have a sense of urgency about it," he said. "Certainly I have a great sense of urgency this offseason, but I wouldn't characterize it as not having a sense of urgency last offseason. I just think we came into it with a great sense of urgency about getting better."
Although the team did fly a private jet to New York to pick up Bush, Mayhew said the sales pitch was plain and direct.
"It was a great effort across the board by the organization," he said. "Matthew Stafford was a part of it. The coaching staff took time out to spend time with (Bush), selling him on what our organization is, selling him on how we could use him. It was attractive to him.
"Same with Glover. He's excited about the opportunity. I talked to him about how we can use him as a player.
"Jason Jones, too, and you look at our current guys who wanted to come back, too, like Chris Houston. So we are comfortable we're moving in the right direction. Those guys committing to us is a sign of that."
There are still holes, as Mayhew said, on the defensive line and receiver, most notably.
Some will be filled through the draft and Mayhew hinted others could be filled through trades.
""At this point, there are a lot of guys whose markets are kind of settling in," Mayhew said. "I believe some guys had some higher expectations. We're staying in contact with agents of players who are currently out there that we think can help us. There are players out there that can help us.
"There's going to be someone out there on the street right now or free agent who's going to be starting and playing a major role for a team. We're trying to find those guys."