I'm home sick, nothing happens. Whole week, no news. Go away for a day on the weekend, and BOOM! Martin Mayhew jumps onto another trade, pulling this one off quickly and decisively.
I took some time to pull up every resource I could lay my hands on so that I could be sure to give you guys all the details of the trade, the cap implications, reasoning and motives on both sides, reactions, and finally finishing with my thought out two-cents on the trade. Shall we dive on in? This will be a long one, and likely no new blog til Monday evening as I was up half the night researching/writing this...
As usual, I'll hyperlink to corroborating stories I will be referencing as I go along. Many repeat info from other pieces, but then have some additional tid-bits.
Lets go back in time to Friday. It began to leak from different sources that Julian Peterson was asked to take a pay-cut and refused to do so. According to Seattle newspapers, his days in Seattle were numbered... At that point, it appears from just about every sports outlet that teams were circling the Seahawks waiting for him to get cut. Teams like TB with their gazillion holes and cap dollars to match were already being mentioned as potential landing spots, with a Bart Scott sized contract awaiting. Even though Seattle late Friday night essentially put out a "make a reasonable offer" sign, it seemed most teams were going to be content waiting them out.
Detroit swooped in and Mayhew started negotiating early, finally closing a deal sending Cory
Redding and Detroit's 2009 5th Round draft pick to Seattle for Peterson.
Cap Implications :
Seattle signed Peterson to a new 7 year deal worth approximately $54 million after their appearance in the Superbowl three years ago. His cap hit this year was approximated at just a touch over $8.5 million. The gain for cutting him was noted at about $4.6 million as per a couple of sources (including ESPN's Clayton and FoxSports' Alex Marvez). Seattle also has "Marijuana Man" Leroy Hill franchised for $8.4 million this season, and signed Lofa Tatupu to a $42 million deal last year. They had, all told, about $20 million tied up in the LB corps. They also had arguably the best 3-man starting LB unit in the league.
With a $125 Million cap for 2009, even with the reserve backers they re-signed, they would have had about 16% of their cap spent on Linebackers. If you are spending that, and have the top LB corps in the league, I don't think that is out of line. That is three starters, plus reserves, with 2 of the starters pro-bowlers. (Tatupu in 2006, 2007, Peterson latest in 07 and 08 -- plus 3 others!)
However, cap-wise, Peterson was the oldest of the trio at 30 (31 in July) and scheduled to make the following salaries (cap hits above that for SB proration):
2009: $6.5 Million
2010: $7.5 Million
2011: $8.0 Million
2012: $8.5 Million
For the Lions, Redding is a story we all know too well. Signed to a big contract after being moved to DT from DE in 2006, he underperformed his contract by far in 2007 and 2008. Fighting nagging injuries both years, he ended 2008 on IR. His contract counted about 5.38 million towards the 2009 cap had he been kept. Trading him caused a cap hit of $7.333 million (the Lions avoided paying him a $250,000 roster bonus on Monday). His salaries were to be as follows (though he is reported to have re-worked his contract to make the trade happen, though it is not known how):
2009: $3.3 Million
2010: $4.3 Million
2011: $5 Million
2012: $6 Million
2013: $7 Million
When you look at the cap implications, if Redding's salary stayed the same, then the Seahawks ended up with a net gain of about $1.3 million in cap space (assuming Redding nixed the roster bonus, otherwise about 1.05 million).
The Lions ended up with a net hit to the cap of $13.83 Million (they currently have now about $18,312,500 as per NetRat).
NFL.com breaks down the players' stats and histories decently. SI.com's Peter King cites Peterson's 2009 cap charge as his salary, incorrectly inferring the Lions took on an $8.8 million salary this season versus a $6.5 million one. Big Difference Peter! You get paid the big bucks, so please at least have the editor do a quick fact check, huh?
What were they thinking?
Seattle: Jim Mora is the new coach in Seattle, and the GM Tim Ruskell is in his 4th year with the franchise. While he hit it big in his first draft with Tatupu and Hill (LB's) he's made some mistakes (the infamous gigantic contract given to Shaun Alexander, who played about 3 productive games for Seattle after that). Word around the league is that Mora is moving away from Holmgren's attacking 4-3 (with Peterson as a 3rd down end at times) and shifting to a Tampa-2 style defense to pair with his West Coast Offense. That is the main reason, it is believed, that he interviewed Rod Marinelli for the open DC spot. Did Marinelli talk up Redding while he was there?
As you'll recall, in the Tampa 2 the SSLB is not as important as the MLB or the WLB. SLB comes out on many passing downs (where Peterson excelled in coverage and as a pass-rusher) and is theoretically one of the easiest pieces on the D to replace. Since they have Tatupu and Hill at the other two spots, it stands to reason they wanted Peterson to take a pay cut commensurate with his soon-to-be-reduced role in the defense. Failing that, they figured a cap savings with the ability to replace him easier (straight T2 SLB is supposedly easier to find) and you can see where this is heading.
There is also the Curry factor. Most analysts simply do not believe there is any chance that the Lions will take a LB #1 overall. With St. Louis at 2 a near solid lock for an OT, that only Leave KC to take Curry at 3 before he would fall to Seattle at 4... KC is supposedly leaning toward DE Orapko, but the thought of Curry possibly sliding to them factors in. With Peterson gone, it is realistic to think Seattle would take Curry -- thus also opening possibilities of trading down from the spot. Stafford or one of the top OT's could fall to them, so they may even be able to get a bidding war going. At least, I'm sure that is their hope...
Finally, Seattle just signed DT Cole to a big contract to replace the departed Rocky Bernard and TJ Whosyomomma to a HUGE contract -- putting themselves closer to the cap than they cared to be. They gave up their own 5th rounder to acquire Keary Kolbert, whom they cut after he only played 4 games for them. Finally, they had almost ZERO pass rush from their Dline after Kearney went out, and Peterson was a sack leader with 5 last season so they were looking to upgrade their line -- particularly the interior.
No matter what, Seattle was intent on getting rid of Peterson, even if it meant cutting him before the draft, or when they needed cap space for a free agent. With the Lions getting them some small cap savings, Redding to "upgrade" their new T2 Dline with an experienced guy (Turns out that Seattle GM Ruskill liked Redding coming out of college, and thinks he has the potential to "fill it's need for a hard-to-move run stopper in the middle."), and a 5th round pick back it was a no brainer for Seattle.
Detroit: Martin Mayhew, after his experience with Dockery, knew there was no way the Lions would land Peterson on the open market -- probably not even if he broke the bank -- including lots of risk in the form of guaranteed money. With the thin FA LB available, and glaring needs with little/no depth, a trade was in order. With many free agents spurning Detroit altogether after 0-16, and even those who visited leaving and signing elsewhere if they didn't get ridiculous paydays, Mayhew knows that trading is the only way he is going to get some of the starting positions (like 2 LB spots) filled outside of the draft.
Trading also has the added bonus that the pro-rated SB money goes to the original team, leaving Lewand with a more easily manageable cap situation. Assuming the Lions keep Peterson on his current deal, they will only pay Peterson about $11.4 million dollars in salary more than they would have Redding for 2009 - 20012. Redding's cap hit of $7.33 Million essentially acts as a one-time signing bonus cap wise. For the 2010-11-12 seasons, the cap hit for Peterson is only marginally higher (2mil yr, on avg) than it would have been for Redding.
Another positive to trading for Peterson is how his pay is structured. He is in a contract year this year -- and all 4 years remaining in Detroit. Because there is no pro-rated bonuses involved, Detroit can cut him any time -- he has no Guaranteed money left. And because he has a chance to earn top LB pay by merely staying on the roster, his incentive to continue to work hard is very much there.
There is also the matter of Redding's roster bonus -- he was due $250,000 on Monday, and that played into it as well. I also get the feeling the Lions were shopping Redding -- my gut says that they were already talking with Seattle about Redding, and that Seattle not having a 5th wanted to give Detroit a 6, but that Detroit wanted their 4. We should be thankful Seattle didn't have a 5th or that trade may have gotten done earlier...
Finally, since Schwartz seems to be leaning into a 4-3/3-4 hybrid type defense (that article will come this week -- it got pushed off when I got the flu) Redding's replacements may either be on the roster (IAF, Fluellen, or Cohen) or attainable via a draft pick.
You have 3 potential replacements for Redding on the roster, odds are one of them will play at least as well as he did meaning no drop-off for the D-Line. Pair a 5th round pick with a low risk of weakening the Dline and send it away for a soon-to-be 31 year old LB who is considered one of the top in the league AND you currently only have 1 starting LB - Ernie Sims.
Of course Mayhew made the trade! Are you telling me you wouldn't have??
Piece of Trivia that is Relevant (from NetRat): Where does the new 5 time pro-bowler fall in terms of cap-hit and salary this year when looking at the Lions? Think it fits?
Highest salaried lions are:
10. Bryant Johnson $2,000,000
9. Keith Smith $2,000,000
8. Dante Culpepper $2,500,000
7. Calvin Johnson $2,580,125
6. Anthony Henry $2,600,000
5. Dewayne White $2,900,000
4. Stephen Peterman $3,000,000
3. Dominic Raiola $3,400,000
2. Jeff Backus $4,450,000
1. Julian Peterson $6,500,000
and the highest cap hits on or off the team are:
10. Keith Smith $3,000,000
9. Stephen Peterman $3,000,000
8. Phillip Buchanan $3,875,000
7. Calvin Johnson $4,180,125
6. Dominic Raiola $4,870,000
5. Dante Culpepper $5,000,000
4. Dewayne White $5,748,750
3. Julian Peterson $6,500,000
2. Jeff Backus $7,273,176
1. Cory Redding $7,333,333
(notice only one dead money -- Redding -- whose numbers I would include as an accelerated SB for Peterson -- making him #1 on cap-hit as well.)
I was a bit surprised at the somewhat cool to outright hostile reaction I saw out there in regards to this trade!
The ever infantile PFT thinks Mayhew/Lewand are the "Millen Twins". I heartily disagree and as cited above, the Lions didn't have a chance in 20 million of getting Peterson to come to them if he made it to the open market, and would have been saddled with a bunch of guaranteed money to boot even if they had. And Redding as an up and coming young player and Peterson over the hill? Redding will be 29. Peterson will be 31. Uh-huh.
Killer thinks it will give the Lions more options, without doing much judging on the trade itself. I tend to agree with him on that point. He also talks about how it could affect drafting Curry at 1. The percentages did just drop some, that's for sure...
On the Seattle side Danny O'neil makes some concise points in his blog -- but mistakenly thinks Redding got his 2006 stats as a DE -- and that the switch to DT hurt him. It implies that a switch back to a T2 DE will help him... hope they are expecting more Kalimba Edwards than Jared Allen! He also points out age wasn't a big deal as the 2 FA signed by Seattle were 30 and 29 and Redding turns 29 this year. He also seems pretty high on the trade in a article for the Seattle Times, but it seems kinda forced to me...
Back to Detroit, Dave Birkett is also cool to the trade, treading the fence but leaning to the negative. This surprises me, as I thought he would be in favor, but here's guessing he is just hedging his bets on a "hot read" reaction piece.
Finally, Aaron Curry's reaction was that he would love playing on a LB group featuring Sims-Curry-Peterson and is practically drooling at the thing Gunther could do with that. Kid really seems to want to come here, gotta give him that. Just not so sure it'll end up that way. We'll see...
My Two Cents:
I am very positive about this trade. It was a steal in my book -- even at worst even if Peterson is slowing down a little and Redding plays like it's 2006 (neither of which do I think is the case.)
As I stated above, Seattle wasn't going to feature Peterson as much in the more rigid T2 they are looking (theoretically) to move to -- and needed help on the Dline so it made sense from their end. On Detroit's side, the chances of the Dline being better than last year without Redding are about the same to me as they would have been with Redding since I think they are going to take an additional Dlineman in the draft. This just give more opportunity for IAF, Cohen and/or Fluellen to step up and get reps and chances. The 5th rounder in the NFL is always a gamble/developmental pick (in most cases).
To me, to give up the two pretty minor things above and get the huge upgrade to the LB corps (from Alex Lewis to Julian Peterson as starting SLB) who is still under contract for 4 seasons was nothing short of amazing.
If you look back to last year, the beginning of the Ifseason, even last week -- there was no mention of Peterson losing a step anywhere. The only place Peterson was mentioned was when teams were wondering if Seattle would take a chance on franchising Hill after his Marijuana incident while they had Tatupu and Peterson already locked up. While his sack totals dropped last season, he was in coverage more and the defense as a whole struggled as the Seattle Offense couldn't stay on the field, and also gave a lot of short fields for the Defense to cover. Also, there were fewer by far 3rd and longs forced by the Seattle D last year, which is where Peterson got a lot of his sacks in prior years. With Kearney out, defenses focused on him to add on. Finally, the Line play with Kearney out was decidedly dismal, and the front 4 weren't only not getting pressure, they weren't stopping the run which leads to lots of bad LB stats.
The LB were considered the strength of Seattle's D, and the best starting LB unit in the league heading into 2009 -- Peterson as 1/3 of that.
When you look at it, Peterson's ability wasn't questioned really, even when Seattle asked him to take a pay cut "for the team." It was assumed he would be a deservedly high-demand FA getting a Bart Scott sized contract. So when did all of the "Can he still play? What is wrong?" questions start?
When he went to Detroit. If Detroit traded for him, it must be assumed something was wrong with him - otherwise, another team would have made a better offer. I hope he uses it for motivation over the next few years.
The national media is equating Mayhew and Lewand with Millen, and predicting/analyzing everything as if Millen were still here.
He quite obviously is not. Martin Mayhew and Tom Lewand had me giving them the benefit of the doubt earlier this ifesason. At this point, they have gone far enough beyond expectations for me to say that I have confidence in them at this point. I am willing to take their moves at face value -- for once, reason seems to be reining in Allen Park.
No "experts" saw the Redding-Peterson trade coming, and it is a total and complete shock and surprise. They didn't predict Kitna for Henry. Didn't dream of Detroit actually getting 1st & 3rd for Roy... If Mayhew can pull off a couple more moves like the Redding, Kitna and Roy trades getting great value for what the Lions are likely to let go then I'll move into optimistic from cautiously optimistic. If he pulls an equivalent trade to land Jay Cutler, I'll be downright ecstatic.
How do you feel about Mayhew/Lewand now that FA is underway, and the Redding, Kitna and Roy trades are in the books? (Poll)