I will interject again in closing that I like the approach the Lions are taking in FA -- they are making calculated, targeted signings. They are for 1-3 year deals with little or no guaranteed money. They guys are being signed to fill holes, for the most part. Their contracts leave no mistaking that they are all in positions on the "can be upgraded any time" list, and will be on the BPA board in the Lions' draft room.
I look for them to at least have a borderline, or presumed starter at every position in place before the draft so they can take a true BPA approach and relegate those borderline starters to depth. There are so many holes on this roster, that the Lions may be the only team in the league that could truly draft the Best Player Available at any given spot in this draft and be upgrading a position every time well into the later rounds.
These signings aren't being brought in to be "the man" or the saviour who puts the Lions over the top. That is for teams with a foundation. They are being brought in so that the Lions can field a team while they build.
Lets say Mayhew is building "Castle Lion". Sure, there is a cornerstone or two in place (CJ, Smith, Alexander, Goz, Sims, Avril) but for the most part he's got a hole dug, and essentially no foundation. So what do you do while you are building your foundation? Buy new furniture (skill players?) to decorate your hole and try to spruce it up? Do you buy an authentic ancient Persian Rug to put over the Mud, or a Picasso to hang or press into the dirt walls? (expensive FA)
Nope. You put up some tents to live in while you are building first. That way, you at least have a dry place to stay. They may not be the best, but it sure as hell beats sleeping in the rain. (Mid-level FA to field a decent team on Sunday's while you build). Then, with a place to stay all figured out, you begin building your foundation and your walls. (drafting BPA, with need taken into consideration, with the walls being additional draft picks and targeted up and comers).
For the most part, the trenches are your foundation, and the defense rounds out your walls. The running game puts a roof on the place. This finally allows you to move out of the tents, and into the new castle. At this point, of course, you will still be a mediocre team -- topping out at 8-8 at best. Four walls, a ceiling and floor make a house, but not a great one.
This is when you fill in furniture, and a decorate the house (skill players, including QB). I see the QB as the heating unit. If you can get a 95% efficiency gas furnace that will run for 10 years and perfectly heat the whole place that is awesome. But if you throw it in your dirt foundation, or try to use it in your tents, it's not going to go so well. Not only that, but an 80% furnace, or even a used furnace running at 70% will still do the trick and keep the house warm. Maybe not as nice, but it'll still work -- as long as you have your trenches, defense, and RB (foundation, walls, roof).
The WR, a great pass catching TE, an "explosive" back, or tandem of backs, are all decorations in the house. It is not necessary to have a Rembrandt on the wall to make the place look nice, but once you have everything else it sure does help!
This interior decorating teaks is what good, consistent teams do in FA and the draft. Since they have their foundation and their house built, it makes sense to try to get the perfect look with some FA, or maybe some shifts to BPA in the draft here or there to fit a specific want as long as it isn't too big a reach.
The reason this seems so odd is that Mayhew is putting up his tents as he starts to build the foundation right now. 0-16 was a pretty good hole, now it is up to Mayhew to build a team. This year, and likely even next, FA will be mostly picking out new tents to get them by. But the draft will be where the permanent building material mostly comes from. Millen always tried to buy stained glass windows before he had walls to put them in.
I, for one, and am glad that at least Mayhew is attempting to build walls first. How good a builder he is we'll have to wait and see come the next couple of drafts. But I'm willing to give an architect who is starting at the beginning and not panicking into keeping up with the Vikings a chance. Are you?