Lions' Bly has permission to talk to other teams

Two-time Pro Bowl performer Dre' Bly, one of the NFL's top big-play cornerbacks, has been granted permission by Detroit Lions officials to seek potential trade possibilities.

Such permission has become more commonplace around the NFL over the past few seasons but rarely results in a trade. Essentially, it means that Bly and his agent have the right to seek out possible trades, but the Lions must still agree to any deal.

The Detroit Free Press first reported on Wednesday that Bly has permission to talk to other teams. Other area newspapers have reported that Bly is unhappy with his situation and that he has requested that the Lions trade him.

Bly, 29, was signed by the Lions as an unrestricted free agent in 2003, after playing his first four NFL seasons with the St. Louis Rams. He earned Pro Bowl honors in two of his first three seasons in Detroit, but his man-to-man style suddenly became a poor fit for the team in 2006, when the Lions hired Rod Marinelli as head coach.

The cover two scheme installed by Marinelli and his staff last season does not demand great coverage skills. Instead, it requires cornerbacks to be more proficient in zones and combination packages and to excel in run support.

Playing in the new scheme in 2006, Bly registered three interceptions, his lowest total since 2002. There were times last year that the eight-year veteran, who might have the best hands of any cornerback in the NFL, appeared uncomfortable in the defense.

Compounding the situation is that Bly will enter the final year of his contract in 2007, has a $4.2 million base salary and a salary cap charge in excess of $5 million. Bly could play for the Lions in 2007 and then depart as an unrestricted free agent after the season, with Detroit getting nothing in return.

It might be in the team's best interests then to deal Bly now, if there are interested suitors, which there figure to be.

A former North Carolina star, Bly was chosen by St. Louis in the second round of the 1999 draft. He made an immediate impact as a nickel defender before moving into the starting lineup. In 119 appearances, including 79 starts, Bly has 346 tackles, 33 interceptions, 113 passes defensed, 17 forced fumbles, seven recoveries and three sacks.

Especially explosive on balls thrown in front of him, Bly has returned five interceptions for touchdowns in his career.

Senior writer Len Pasquarelli covers the NFL for ESPN.com.