Ever been sailing before? Not a cruise ship that is pretty stable, but a smaller boat of some kind -- be it pontoon, large runabout, fishing trawler, pirate ship...
One thing they have in common is the difficulty in walking about that land lubbers have. The problem stems from the fact ships are constantly moving due to the motion of the ocean and the ship itself plowing across that ever changing landscape.
All Daunte Culpepper and Boat connotations aside, following the Lions right now is like being a person attempting to move around a boat on the Ocean for the very first time, in rough seas.
Part of the problem with writing my usual positional pieces is that as soon as I think I've got a handle on what is happening, a wave comes along and tosses me on my backside. (for example, trading Gerald Alexander for Dennis Northcutt)
Pro-Football Weekly had a recent article that brought attention to what the Lions are doing right now -- and how Mayhew is working to build the Lions. Depth. Solid Depth. Improvement.
Essentially, as I said earlier, Mayhew is bringing in anyone who could be an upgrade over a player they have already at a position. Whether it is a starter or a backup, Mayhew is trying to get as much talent and competition as possible onto the roster. This will make it both easier and more difficult to improve the team going forward, and create less holes up and down the roster. I look for there to be many more such trades, and/or signings of players who are cut.
One such position will be DT. There are a few teams out there that will have difficulty finding a roster spot for all of their DT's once the cut-downs approach. With the Lions holding sway over the waiver-wire, there is a very good chance that the Lions could get a rotational DT off waivers when the cut down to 53 happens. Maybe even earlier... so the DT's better not get a feeling of being safe, since the ship could turn anytime and toss them overboard.
A team to watch for potential DT's is the New York Giants. They currently have 5 starting caliber DT's (for the Lions, anyway) but may only keep 4. Newly signed Chris Canty and Rocky Bernard are most likely safe. Since Justin Tuck moves around the line at both DE and DT, that leaves 1 of the following 3 to either get traded or cut: Robbins, Alford and Cofield. Any one of them would start for the Lions. It would be best if they were to cut Alford or Cofield as Robbins is a vested vet and he wouldn't go through the waiver wire but the highest bidder, and thus be more expensive and possibly have competition to get. While the Giants keep qutie a few linemen, having more than 8 or 9 really pinches the roster in other ways -- and with some of their DE's capable of rotating in, they are more likely to carry the more versatile players.
Rowing back to the boat analogy, right now Schwartz and Mayhew have made sure nobody is comfortable aboard ship. Alexander was in a fight with about 6 other guys to be the 3rd or 4th safety. If the Lions felt he was in competition to start, they wouldn't have traded him. Despite looking pretty decent before the neck injury, there are other guys competing that are about as talented. Since one or more will end up cut anyways, the Lions went for more depth at WR. Even if Northcutt doesn't work out, the Lions realized a positive cap savings and were able to get more competition at a postion they feel needs it.
They only really had Curry, the rookie Williams, and Standeford competing for the slot WR role. Northcutt adds a very solid option there at #3 WR -- and he also has the ability to be a competent #2 for short stretches if needed. If needed, he's got experience returning punts. He is never going to tear it up and be a superstar -- but none of the players the Lions will be shuffling around at this point are/will be. They are the type of solid players to fill out a roster that every team needs.
At this time last ifseason, we were looking at who would make the roster knowing that player acquisition was essentially done. The roster was so set at this point, that as the cuts came we were about 90%+ right on with who would be sticking around. Now, not so much. We haven't gotten our sea-legs yet -- and neither have most of the players.
And for the Lions, that is a very good thing.