Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Spend $1 at the Dollar Store - Don't Offer $10

As I keep reading various evaluations and grades on free agency (the second of which is absurd considering it is just starting out. Seriously. Get a grip people!) I keep coming around to lots of big namers.

You know the ones. They clamor for the Lions to pay $$$$ for "insert over the hill or injured or not worth the money big name guy here". Lets sign Shaun Alexander then! He's had a year to recuperate, and was League MVP a couple yearsish back...yeah! Lets bring in S Roy Williams! He must be awesome he has an NFL rule named after him...

I have one phrase: $1 Ninja's cost $1. Don't pay $5 bucks for them. Certainly not $10.

I am referring, of course, to my own classic article last June in regards to Kevin Jones and that class of NFL player -- the Dollar Ninjas.

While the Kevin Jones bit is long past, the principle holds true. Millen constantly spend $5 bucks on $1 players. Agents are used to this, and thinking Mayhew might be like his old boss, showed up in Detroit hands out palms up looking for cash. While Mayhew didn't exactly give them the finger, he essentially said I'll take my chances on looking at 5 UDFA and finding one as talented as you.

And in doing so, he wouldn't be that far off. Washington, WR? Sure, he started to show some flashes. But is he really worth what he'll get paid? Are #2 WR that hard to find?

See, Washington keeps getting Fa and always seems to have holes or aging veterans that need to be replaced... Know why? They try to build through FA. Doesn't work. You get guys in FA for 2 -3 years on average. The cost is also higher for the production you are getting.

Now, the Lions don't just need to upgrade/fill one or two positions with play makers to fill out the team. And even if they did, the draft would be look #1 -- FA if there aren't guys available in that class.

The Lions have literally a dozen spots that could use upgrading immediately. The problem is, there aren't enough reasonable upgrades out there.

Take the rookie pool out of the equation, and then some space to sign injury replacements, and the Lions could sign about 2 - 3 moderately high dollar guys like Washington. They don't need those 3 guys for 2 -3 years. They need 7 or 8 for 2-3 years until they can draft/sign guys to replace them with more talent.

A Lexus is a really expensive Toyota with a better suspension, more shiny parts, and different sheet metal. It costs a lot more, but deep down it's a Camry.

Same thing with some of these free agents. A 3rd WR, a 3rd CB, a 3rd S. How much difference is there really? The big name OG or the lower rated OG? Mayhew isn't delusional enough to think playoffs next year. So he is just tossing that idea out the window in his planning. Will the team try to win? Of course. Will he take a Marinelli approach make a team of over-the-hill guys to "win now" and ignore the development of the young guys, including playing time? I don't think he or Schwartz will do so.

He is building long term. That means he knows that getting from a level 6 to a level 8 player (out of 10) at some positions isn't going to make or break next season. The long term solutions are what he is looking for. The Lions have no real solid core of talent to build around that playoff teams do. I'm not talking 4 or 5 players, but 30 or 40 players. Mayhew knows that any success the Lions have will be short term until that core can be built, and the only way to do it is through the draft and smart FA signings.

If you know you are going to be wearing an outfit to dig out a foundation, and lay brick work, do you go and buy an Armani suit or do you get a good pair of jeans and some work shirts?

Right now, think of the Lions as an expansion team. They are building the foundation of their new business enterprise. Right now, an Armani suit isn't going to get them to the next level of interviews or customers -- they need to build the business first! So they are going for cost effective utilitarian signings. It's appropriate for their situation.

Assuming the next CBA has a cap (I think it will) they want to be able to play it so they can re-sign their good players long term, and use their cap space on their own guys, and bring in FA where needed to fill gaps. That is how the best teams do it, and what the Lions are looking to do...

One last thought...SI.com had a piece on biggest draft busts... notice how most of them are from the late 90's (except for Washington, who had the most on the list by far) when FA was just starting. There were two reasons for this: More players moved teams as the NFL worked to figure out ways to keep the guys they wanted, but only letting go guys past their prime, etc. So while a few FA hit the market in their prime (Like Drew Brees, but even he was an injury risk. Looks like the Glue has held for him.) most that are out there are on the market for a reason -- even Haynesworth the $100 million man. Keep that in mind if you are demanding the Lions overpay for a player.

There are a lot of $5 utilitarian toys out there right now -- but that doesn't mean Mayhew should be paying $10 bucks for them. He should be commended for not.


Anonymous said...

Very Good Point. You cannot win long term with "$1 Ninjas that you paid $10 for.

Fix the Foundation!


CHIEFGER139 said...

have to seriously disagree with you
how many superbowls has washington won?? how many have our lions won??
end of discussion-we wont compare overall records will we-how many playoff games theyve won vs how amny weve won-how many playoff teams theyve had vs how many weve had-would the eagles a good team ever made it to the superbowl without t.o.-etc etc-
free agency is like the draft-if you have quality personel they can sift through it and get guys who still have many years left in the tank, ones you neccesarily dont have to over pay-and the ones they do over pay end up being much worth it-this just shows you we have lacked big time in tallant evaluation-not only at the draft level but the free agent level also-and unfortunately sometimes you have to over pay guys to get the best talant-you just plain cant go cheap-especially if your desperate to get some kind of base to build upon. so I say yes theres good quality free agents out there-
yes the price tag may seem high but your never gonna win with a bunch of 1 dollar ninjas-need to buy some 5 and 10 dollar ones and try to make sure they turnout to be there 5-10 dollar value-doesnt matter if there guys you draft or there guys you pick up-but for god sakes dont go out there with a bunch of 1 dollar untallanted ones and expect to be the 5-10 dollar guys on a regular bases-
thats the lions approach-it dont work!!
signed the wize chief!!

CHIEFGER139 said...

meant to say beat the 5-10 dollar guys on a regular bases

DetFan1979 said...

I think you made my point chief -- how many Superbowls has Washington won? You can win now and then, but not consistently, by trying to build through FA. The perennial contenders build through the draft, and only pay big money to bring the the 2 -3 guys to help them fill the invaraible gaps.

Philly didn't build in FA. They got TO becuase they had a great core, but their drafted WR (like Freddie Mitchell) didn't work out so they brought him in as a major missing piece.

You only pay 5-10 if they are worth it. The FA on the market people are talking about aren't. They are $1 guys - $5 guys. You don't pay a $5 guy (washington) $10 bucks unless he is one of the final pieces you need. And if that is the case, odds on are he'll come for 6 or 7 due to a chance to win!

Detroit has almost NO TALENT. Period. They have about 5 -6 core guys, where most teams have 30 -40. They can't build that all in one season, and it would be stupid to try. They are getting guys who can play a bit, signing them to inexpensive one or two year deals so that as they draft talent, when they get guys worth keeping (CJ, K. Smith) they can afford to.

It's not just about this year, but years down the road as well. Plus, they could only afford 3 contracts like Washington got. Lions need more players than that right now just to field a competitive team.

They will meet, and wait -- and the prices will come down to where they should be, and they will pay 2 or 3 bucks for the best guys, and then fill in the rest with draft and UDFA.

The team they field next season will be better than last year talent wise. It should be a lot better coached -- so figure at best maybe 4 wins. They are so bad there is no real precedent for them to follow other than to do it right.

Even if they draft great -- as I said a couple months ago -- you are looking at 3 perfect drafts and then a good FA period to get this team enough talent to be competitive -- 2 if you are VERY lucky -- just from a sheer numbers standpoint.

That is the reality with which Mayhew is faced, and with which he is going forward. If we signed all of those high-dollar guys, Lions might win 5 games instead of 4. Is it worth it? I'd rather see them spend it on the future instead, and focus on long-term building. They are starting out with guys who fill spots now, but will be depth as soon as they can upgrade them, and then cut in many instances if they can upgrade another level.

There is no magical player tree they can go and just get a starter for position X for $X per year. Doesn't exist.

Conjecture can be a lot of fun, but Mayhew has to build the team in reality. Ignoring reality and going for flash will get you Matt Millen and 0-16.

Spending big every year in FA and doling out tons of $$$ will get you mediocre, with an occasional playoff appearance (Dan Snyder) -- but you won't consistently be good.

Draft good and then fill some holes with FA and you will be a perennial contender like New England, Indianapolis, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Baltimore, and the New York Giants.

FA is a step, but the real telling will be in how Mayhew drafts. And it is too early to judge that yet, don't you think?

DetFan1979 said...

BTW - I brought up Washington because they consistently over-pay for under-performance. Most big dollar FA do not pan out or make a big difference. It is rare the one who does.

Remember when the Browns "won" FA with the LeCharles Bently signing? And he never played a down. Remember who "won" the draft last year -- and has a new front office and coach this year?

Media reports over-hype guys who have name, but are coming onto the end of their careers. Like Ray Lewis, or even LT isn't the player he was.

Anonymous said...


Your comparsion with SB wins between Washington and Detroit would be valid IF, Dan Snyder owed Washington when they won their SB's. 1979's point was that Dan Snyder's way of building the Redskins via Overpriced FA is not the way to go.


CHIEFGER139 said...

even back then washington was famous for making teams out of old vets-old kilmer took them to the superbowl one year in the hole team was a bunch of old guys they just picked up. and im sorry but washingtons method must be way better than ours look where they are every year and look where we are-im not saying sign a hayesworth for some ridiculuous price but if you can target some good young guys that may cost a bunch why not get them-the rookies wont be cheap either-I agree dont get old guys but dont think we can just build from the draft period-some guys cost more cause they are worth more period-unfortunately the free agents we do get are the old washed up guys and other teams hand me downs-some of the hand me downs that arent washed up arent that bad look at pearsons-he turned out good for us-as desperate as we are at some of these positions I think they need to fork out some bucks and get a guy who will be around for a while and is good enough to start draft guys definately are no sure thing-most all after round 5 are total busts and our luck at 2 hasnt been worth our time either. i know smith was a good running back for the 3rd round but face it most teams have 2 backs just as good-against us both of there backs get more yards than he does.like all say-its too early to judge-could be a major trade in the works now-who knows but im not all that thrilled so far-but have been a couple things that are ok like the kitna trade and this jackson guy if he doesnt get suspended.

RIP said...

Pride is looking for input with his draft. Please give him this input from me. 2.1 draft either interior lineman Max Unger or size for CB Darius Butler. A/R RIP

RIP said...

Hopefully with the signing with Philip Buchanon, they try him first at FS.

CHIEFGER139 said...

seems we signed another teams startin cb-another huge move in my oppinion-dont know how old he is-some say old some say in his prime-wish I knew but he started for the bucs-once again a huge improvement-plus signed the old guy jackson as a dt-and most likely our starter-a huge man who most likely can only plat 2 downs before takin him out-what worries me most hes too much like rogers and could get suppened for 4 games like rogers did for the same very drug- what i love about this pick up is-hes a big guy and obviously coach swartz realises unlike coach rod- a big guy can beat the crap out of you for a few rounds-the much smaller guy cn wait him out and wear him down-solution bring in another fresh big guy and kill the hope of the smaller guy-most all other teams see this-hopefully we do too-thats how this tampa 2 crap started to begin with-the more experienced teams seem this and keep 9- 10 defensivelineman to combat it-we did too-trouble is we with the little guys who didnt need as many breaks-they were just flat out over powered-hopefully mayhew has seen this-think he has ny his comments of bein too small-good job mayhew make us proud and sorry det fan 79-this part-yes this part is every so much as important as the draft- got of ace it here too buddy to be good
signed the wize chief

Anonymous said...

Buchanon is 28


Anonymous said...


Good point about Washington winning SBs with older players (Oakland did the same thing). The difference between what Washington did then and what Dan Synder does now is that they targeted older players who still had something in the tank, and did not overpay.

Dan Synder today goes after the top rated FA every year and overpays. That is the difference and DLF1979's point, get targeted players to upgrade the team but don't overpay.