Lions general manager Martin Mayhew admits there's urgency. That's hardly a newsflash. That's the equivalent of a man seeing that his pants are on fire finally conceding he feels a little warm.

There has been no public ultimatum from either Ford, but there's a general understanding that anything short of tangible improvement next season (how about a second playoff win in the past half century?) could result in another thorough organizational housecleaning.

Mayhew's latest dilemma is that Jeff Backus' retirement following 12 seasons guarantees a minimal 60% turnover in the offensive line next season, leaving the Lions with no alternative but investing the fifth overall pick in the first round of next month's draft in an offensive tackle.

If you're forced to fill three interior line holes with inexperience, you had better fill one with either Texas A&M's Luke Joeckel or Central Michigan's Eric Fisher, the top-graded left tackles in the draft pool.

Yes, I know. That contradicts the Lions' three biggest personnel needs this off-season: defense, defense and defense.

But the timing of Backus' retirement -- just 24 hours after the Lions announced their respectable free-agency haul -- should have reminded everyone that this franchise can motor forward at a dizzying speed only for a short time before another warning light pops up on the dashboard.

It's always something with these guys.