Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Build Through The Draft?

As the lockdown on information coming out of Allen Park has hit Cold-War Russia Level, I figured this is as good a time as any to begin looking at the past draft evaluation, and the current state of the roster following the end to most major FA signings.  While more on evaluating the draft (including a review of my draft evaluation guidelines) will follow this week, the best place to start is to look at where the team is right now. 

The players from the 2003, 2004, 2005, and 2006 drafts should be forming the core of the veteran and great young players coming into their own on any teams roster. 

For the Lions not so much.  As per NFL.coms draft history, and a peek at the Lions roster, here is the current players on the Detroit Lions right now, in order of year drafted, with round in (#).  Warning: Cover the eyes of young Lions Fans.  Mayhews starting point after the Millen Era is not pretty.  Only 22 Players currently on the roster only 20 of whom were drafted this decade.

2008-Cherilus(1), Dizon(2), Smith(3), Fluellen(3), Avril(3), Felton(5), Cohen (7)

2007-CJ (1), Stanton (2), IAF (2), Alexander (2), Ramirez (4), Robinson (7)

2006-Sims (1), Bullocks(2), Calhoun(3),

2005-0

2004-Lewis(5), Smith(3)

2003-0

2002-0

2001-Backus (1), Raiola(2)

2000-0

1999-DeVries(3)

1998-0

1997-0

1996-0 

1995-0

1994-0

1993-0

1992-Hanson(2)

Things worth noting:

1.  2002,2003 and 2005 supposedly prime years for the current core of the Lions roster have ZERO players still with the Lions. 

2.  While there are currently 3 players from the 2006 draft on the roster, Calhoun will likely not make it out of camp (if he even makes it there).

3.  The 13 players remaining from 2007 and 2008 speak more to the lack of depth on the Lions roster, than it does to the talent of the players. 

4. Of the 2004 players Keith Smith and Alex Lewis, Smith is in a make or break year, and Lewis wont be more than a backup at best (if he makes the roster) with Peterson on board.  Unless Keith Smith shows great improvement, and depending who the Lions draft in 2009, could be Zero players from 2004 on the roster as well making 2002 2005 total goose-eggs instead of the core of the team. 

This is really why I have said repeatedly that even if Mayhew/Lewand draft great, and Schwartz is half as good as we hope, it will be about 3 years or so before the Lions have any real type of core talent base in place.  As it looks right now, depending on how Cohen and Fluellen turn, the 2008 draft Millens last could very well turn out to be his best by far.  The 2001 draft currently stands as Millens best with 2 long term starters in Raiola and Backus. 

Sobering food for thought when looking at the task that the new Lions management is facing.  Is it any wonder BPA who will contribute for the long term is the mantra coming out of Allen Park?  It isnt smoke but fact the Lions could truly draft that way this year and improve with each and every pick all the way down into their 7th round compensatory pick. 

The talent cupboard isnt just bare in Detroit its been stripped out of the foreclosed franchise.  Now the Lions have salvaged what building blocks they could (Cherilus, K. Smith, CJ, Bullocks, Sims, Hanson, et al) and razed the rest of the house.  Its not a re-building job that would imply something was built in the first place and needs to be fixed.  Looking at this chart you can see it is essentially new construction.  Building the franchise will take time, but will it be done right this time? 

So far, so good but only time will tell.   Its way too early to judge at this point.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Rev's Q's: Who's #1, Who's Not, Who's Back?

Once again I am answering mailbag questions over at the Church of Schwartz. The questions are in italics, with my response following:

1. Are there any Lion free agents that you'd like to see brought back?

Of 19 Free Agents (including Ramzee Robinson) on an 0-16 team, 4 of them -- over 20% -- were signed by other teams. The Lions, of course, re-signed 5 of them. Now, of those 5 one was Peterman, who will start at RG barring any misfortune this ifseason. He was a strong pickup, and a player I wanted them to keep. Jason Hanson was another of the re-signees, and that was a no-brainer as well; he is one of the top 3 kickers in the league right now and showing no signs of slowing. The other 3 re-signees are all depth signings, and on the types of deals that could make them camp fodder. With the tragic drowning of Corey Smith (who I would have listed as someone for them to re-sign) we are already down to just 9 guys we are looking at.

I decided the best way for me to express how I feel about each player was in list format:

1. Keary Colbert, WR: Nothing special at this point, and there are younger, cheaper, options to bring in to compete for a roster spot that have more upside.
2. George Foster, OT: The Lions re-signed Damion Cook as their swing OT, and Loper can play both OG and OT positions. They do not really need another backup RT, which is what Foster would be since Cherilus definitely left him far behind with his play in the latter half of the season.
3. Rudi Johnson, RB: The Lions signed Morris as the 3rd down/breather back, which is the main role they needed filled. They can easily find some younger, hungrier backs to fill their other RB needs. Rudi wants to compete for a #1 spot -- and it is a competition he already lost to Smith should he come back to Detroit. I look for him to sign elsewhere either into/after camp or in the season as in injury replacement.
4. Paris Lenon, LB: I actually wouldn't mind seeing Paris Lenon back as a ST player and backup LB. He can play the middle adequately, and is a solid - if unspectacular - OLB as well. He brings it on ST and would be an inexpensive depth player as the Lions transition to new blood.
5. Andy McCollum, OG/C: Doesn't have a lot of gas in the tank, and was brought in last season really because Marinelli didn't like to play anyone with under 4 years in the league.
6. Shaun McDonald, WR: Ran backwards too often, and doesn't have a good awareness of where the sticks are. The Lions can find a suitable replacement late in the draft, or even with some UDFA. Their 1-3 seems pretty decent with CJ, BJ, and Standeford (sounds like an accounting firm -- hope they account for a lot of TD's next season!)
7. Langston Moore, DT: don't get me wrong, I like Moore as a depth player -- but the Lions have Fluellen and Cohen and are looking to get bigger and younger on the lines. He just doesn't seem to fit with the new Lions. He may catch on if injuries hit a team running the Tampa2, or a base 4-3 zone D.
8. Ryan Nece, LB: Nope. Didn't see anything worth commenting on last season from him. A T2 SLB, wasn't horrible, wasn't great. With Peterson as starter, and Dizon on the roster, why do you need Nece? Answer: You don't.
9. Stanley Wilson, CB: Not anymore. He had potential as a good man-cover corner, but the Lions' T2 scheme and injuries have ruined his career. Unfortunately, he may be OOF at this point. If healthy though, he would make a good camp body for someone. Just not the Lions.

After looking at all 9, I guess my final answer is: Paris Lenon for depth/ST.


2. Now that the Lions are negotiating with several guys(assuming Curry, Stafford, Smith, Monroe, maybe Raji) for the 1st overall pick, do you take the best player or the guy that will sign the best contract?

Whoever they are negotiating with for the #1 overall (once those negotiations really begin) they will be willing to sign any of them. In this draft, the top players are bunched so BPA gets kinda fuzzy. Really, if this is the pool, it means they are willing to take any of those guys at #1 for the right contract. He who has the best "right contract" will be dubbed the BPA tie-breaker by virtue of signability and the powers of WCF's checkbook. Don thy newly logo'd Jersey and Hat and arise a true Lion!

3. Who was the worst coach of the Millen tenure: Moronweg, Mooch, Shovel MariRockPounder?

This is a tough question, as there were several factors working against each coach, the biggest being Matt Millen and lack of talent. Mornhinwheg wasn't able to make the leap from OC to HC very well -- although he was hampered by the draft choices of Millen. Overall, his coaching itself wasn't too bad. Millen totally gutted that team the first year, as well as the front office. I'm not even sure an experienced coach could have handled it -- as Mariucci would learn.

Mooch made his rep juggling the talented prima-donnas on the 49ers roster, but wasn't able to get them over the hump. A testament to his coaching skills is that after he left, the 49ers have done worse. He is their high point this past decade, as far as coaches are concerned. However, he was a bad fit for Detroit. Millen was telling him who to play, and it wasn't who needed to be playing to win... Also, Mariucci's coaching career had involved keeping great talent focused on the task at hand -- not developing marginal players, or less naturally gifted players. This showed in how he ran the team, and also hurt in his clashes with Millen. He was a good coach in the wrong situation for his talents. He benefited and looked better as a result of the groundwork Mornhinweg put down, but it was all falling apart by the time he left. Mooch's talent was maintaining greatness, not creating it. Great talents -- but useless in the situation he was in.

Marinelli is a good Dline coach. he may have even been able to make a transition to DC, though I am wondering. But HC was just waaay over his head. Jim Schwartz indicated that going from position coach to coordinator was like being in a whole different sport. He went from working with players, to working with coaches. As a HC Marinelli didn't learn the offense, or coordinate how they work together. When he did try to do so, his OC was Colletto and it was so predictable that my 7 year old could see what play was coming. With Martz, the O didn't mesh with the D style. Square pegs, round holes. When he got his old round pegs from Tampa, he found they were so worn out they fell right through the holes and out of the picture ala Kelly.

It wasn't just personnel that doomed Marinelli -- but his use of it. Mooch and Marty got quite a bit out of the players they had. Rod just plain couldn't evaluate personnel worth beans. The real killer -- and the biggest reason for 0-16 -- was that not only could he and his staff not adjust in-game, they couldn't even adjust week to week. Week 11,12 it was like they were in camp and still installing the offense! It is that travesty, along with not playing his young guys to see if they would step up in the midst of 0-16 that make him the biggest coaching disaster of the three.

Mornhinweg is an excellent OC, and continues to excel in Philly. Mooch is OOF after letting WCF pay him to do nothing for a couple of years. Marinelli will maybe get a shot at a DC spot some day, but after how over matched he was in the HC position I doubt it. He will be a position coach for the rest of his career. He handled 0-16 as well as anyone could, and the team didn't give up on him. If only he had trusted his team a bit more, or had even the slightest bit more ability to adjust from week to week even, the Lions could have eked out a win.

Rod Marinelli wins the prize of worst coach -- it doesn't get any worse than winless.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

News Site vs Blog

I have struggled with many things as I've been writing this blog over the last year. I am not a professional journalist. (I do have a Minor in English from Northern Michigan University to go with my BS in Social Science Economics, though. My affinity for parentheses drove my professors nuts too. So I like soliloquy - personal idiosyncrasies make life fun.)

I work full time (I am an insurance agent) and love to spend time with my three beautiful little pink Lions -- and of course one can't underplay time with Mrs. DetFan1979 either! Since my job does involve actually...well, working, I can't spend all my time writing about the Lions.

The biggest problem I've had, in the past, is running the line between reporting Lions news -- and analyzing it. While I would love to be the repository of all Lions news stories of the day, there are several sites that do that quite well already. I'm going to highlight a few, and then tell you why. All of them can be found in the links section on the right of this page.

Mlive.com has numerous articles by Tom "Killer" Kowalski, and Phil Zaroo does a good job of ferreting out Lions releated news on the web for the Highlight Reel.

Church of Schwartz does a summary of blog articles and some news pieces every day or two - focusing more on linking into Lions bloggers (such as myself) than running AP news lines.

Sean over at Pride of Detroit does a VERY good job of linking in to all of the pertinent Lions news of the day.

So why did I just spend half a blog pointing you to other sites? Because I will be doing a section in most blogs where I link to their (especially Pride's) news links for the day. While I'll still directly link stories, it will allow me to get you hooked into the current Detroit Lions news without taking up half the blog on going over what many of you have already read (or can read, if I link to it.)

I know -- I still haven't answered why. It has to do with who I am; or rather, who I am not. I am not a professional journalist. I am not a beat writer. I am not an insider. I have no super secret sources.

I am a blogger. What I enjoyed most when I started this blog -- and the reason I did so -- was the analysis. Providing insight and thoughts in a way that was different from the typical report AP news wire style that is so prevalent. Throw one new sentence or two onto the same press release or quotes, and call it a day.

I have strayed toward that way at times, and I want to get away from that. Rather, I am going to focus on getting back to what I do best -- talking intelligently about the Lions and Football. Not about what the press releases or stories may way -- but what they are not. What-IF-ing the IFseason, and breaking down the issues.

And of course, interaction with you -- my loyal readers. So while I may summarize the news, you can click a couple of links on the right, or as I hone in on a story in my commentary --- it will not be my primary focus. Making sense of the news is what I do best. Or nonsense of the news too! I'm good at both!

A big THANK YOU to everyone for sticking with me. We're all in this together -- through 0-16 and beyond. As this year's motto says "Lions 2009: Plug the holes in the dike!" or as Chief says: Lions fine in 2009 -- men in 2010 and beyond!

Football thought of the day? It's a question: If you were possibly the first LB to be taken #1 overall in 20+ years, and your maturity and professionalism along with your versatility and tenacity on the field is why, would you admit if you were or were not in contract negotiations with the Detroit Lions if they told you not to say a word?

Me either. So I think reports of Curry not being contacted yet are either A. He's not talking or B. They aren't negotiating...yet. or C. They aren't wasting time negotiating because they have a possible idea they are going to be taking a trade down.

Mayhew announced to the world that #1 and #20 are for sale -- Make an Offer, any Offer and we'll consider. He's not going to take anything stupid, but if a top-ten team offers their #1 and #2 this year to move up, he'd be crazy not to take it. The Lions need multiple players at almost every position, not one player for a couple of positions. This gives them much more versatility than pretty much any other team as whoever the BPA is in the two picks they get will likely help them just as much or more than the BPA from the pick they traded!

BTW - even though I talked about money being an issue -- with Curry projected to go by #4, that shouldn't be a big roadblock for the Lions.

They seriously don't know who it will be yet, and exchanging or giving an idea of initial contract proposals -- as Lewand suggested they were doing earlier -- does not technically mean "negotiating" so Curry's agent may have gotten one, and they don't consider it "negotiations" until there is a serious dialogue going.

I think the Lions are doing more shopping of the picks versus negotiating at this point as they really want to get out of the top spot. Any trade for #20 will be done on draft day, and likely have been worked out in principle beforehand based on which players are available in that slot. Last year's going rate for that spot was Low-#1 for a high to mid #2 and #3, or a #2 or 3 and next year's low #1. In the Philly trade it was, I believe, their 08 2 or 3 and this year's one.

Now that FA has died down, I'll be looking at the roster as it stands (or doesn't, in some spots) and then it'll be time to start mocking...

BTW - even if you are "late" to the stories because of your time zone (we have lots of West Coast readers, and even those serving in foreign countries to protect our great nation) please leave comments whenever you have thoughts on the story at hand, or Lions related that the story brings to mind for you. As readers, I know most of you go back and read the comments on the stories (if you don't, you have no idea what you're missing!). I also try to be sure and bring good thoughts from the comments into the main discussion for further looks (with credit given).

Thanks again everyone, and I'm looking forward to more of this exciting ifseason!!

Is This the "New" Logo?

This may or may not be the new logo, but I figured I might just as well post the link for all you anyways.  This is totally unsubstantiated, but seems more likely than others Ive seen about.  It was on NFLShop, and appears to be a real, yet inadvertent, revelation of the teams new logo.  Several sources have picked up the story after seeing it, and it resembles the mock-up that Phil Zaroo had on Mlive a short time back. 

Here is the link.

What do you think?  Appears to be just an updated Bubbles.  Keep up the great commentary fellows!  New thoughts from me late evening tonight. 

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Is that your Final Answer?

Until something concrete happens, this will be my final say on Bronco's QB Jay Cutler. At this point, I am going to move forward with the idea that the Lions are entering the draft with their current complement of players and picks.

First off, long weekend with sick kids. I'm beat, but I love the great back and forth in the comments going on last story -- if you haven't read them, take the time. Well worth it!

I'm actually very close to 5BakerStreet (glad to see your comment -- always insightful!) in where I stand on trading for Cutler.

I DO NOT want Jay Cutler if the Lions end up with a net loss of more than one 1st through 3rd round pick. Period.

Both scenarios I am in favor of --

1. Cutler for any ONE: 1,20, OR 33
2. Cutler and 12 for 1 and 20 (lose 1 and 20, gain 12 and cutler)

-- amount to a net loss of one draft pick.

I am willing to say yes, a 25 year old pro-bowl QB is building with youth IF you only give up one guy for him. For instance, Cutler at one overall or Stafford? Cutler is the better gamble.
Where I don't want to see it go is Cutler at 1...20...65...and maybe a pick next year which is what some delusional people are suggesting.

If that is the asking price, Mayhew should tell them to stick it up their Millen and keep the picks. I can see Cutler being worth more to the Lions in the long run than any one guy in this draft. But any 2, 3, 4? NO WAY!

IF the Lions were a team with few holes a QB away, then yes - why not? But a team with more holes than Swiss cheese? With more openings than people in line for unemployment in Michigan? Nope. Not for the Lions.

Even the other teams supposedly bidding -- like Tampa Bay -- are not whom I would expect Cutler to help the most. Tampa Bay, for instance, is just starting a rebuild as big as the Lions are with a rookie GM and Coach (who's never even been a coordinator). Yet, they gave up a 2nd and something else for Winslow -- a beat up, oft injured TE. Now they want to give up more picks for a QB?

How about a line? How about the fact you have about 3 starters left on your defense? And this is TAMPA, not Detroit! They are chillin like Millen down there based on their ifseason moves -- and my gut says they are not in for a bright near future down there...

Meanwhile, back here in Detroit? As long as Mr. Mayhew and Mr. Lewand remember that Matt Millen is no longer running the Lions, and not grossly overpaying includes trading for QB's -- we will be fine. Stick with your plan gentlemen, it's looking good so far.

I know that there will be tons of Lions fans dreaming of a great young QB from now til Cutler's situation is settled. I will not be one of them. If dreaming of a QB means dreaming of a gutted team for an additional year, then you can count me out.

And that is my final answer.

Friday, March 20, 2009

How Much for Cutler-y?

When my wife and I got married, we went out and put together a registry of items. There was a scanner we would take around the store, and when you scanned the UPC code on an item it would add it to your registry so people would know what to buy you. Want more than one? Scan it multiple times!

There is a sense of practicality to this. More than one person may want to get you, for instance, kitchen utensils, dishes, serving bowls, etc. But what to get? If you didn't have a registry, you were likely to either have a hodge-podge of different sets of dishes, 5 different knife sets, 6 coffee makers and lord knows how many salt and pepper shakers. The registry allowed us to have a unified plan, and save lots of time trying to take things back and then go shopping again or getting a bunch of items that didn't go together.

The other consideration (for us, at least) was price. We wanted to be sure the set we were putting together was affordable for us (to add to and replace items later) and for our wedding guests (they only had so much money to spend on us, after all.)

If it's not apparent by now, it should be, that Martin Mayhew has sat down with Jim Schwartz and put together a registry of what they need. Unfortunately, the NFL store has very limited stocks and supplies, so you often have to make do until the right crockery that matches your set comes in. Maybe you have to settle for a complementary color versus the exact pattern youre looking for.

In FA thus far, Mayhew has done a lot of shopping at the second hand stores trying to pick up complementary pieces, or older pieces that match his pattern pretty well, but are kind of worn and will need to be replaced soon. Hes not fooling himself the Lions know their team resembles the kitchen of a college student who took bits and pieces of various sets, resale shops, and garage sales to stock his apartment versus the more refined and planned d├ęcor of my home, for instance.

The draft is where Mayhew gets to go to the store, and pick out what he needs to start building his kitchen. Knives, of course, are a good place to start. They are like the QB of the kitchen. You dont really need to have a lot of different knives but you need at least one really good set of cutlery.

But with a set of ginsu-class Cutlery possibly available, the question becomes: how much is it worth? You already have a set of Culpepper and a Stanton. The Henson isnt all that, but you can easily pick up a very budget friendly Leftwich to round out your cutting utensils for now. If you buy the Cutlery though, the price just may be so much that you would have to forsake 2 or 3 place settings to get it because of the cost.

Is it worth it?

Is that shiny Cutlery so much better than your current knife set, or one you can get in the draft, that its worth that much? Sadly, I would have to say no. What good is a really good knife if you dont have a place setting to put the food on to eat it?

The bidding for Jay Cutler is supposedly going to start at 2 first rounder draft picks. If that is the case, bid up Tampa Bay and whomever and drop out. Mayhew hasnt been overspending on anyone if FA and trades, and he should extend that to Cutler. The Lions need those 2 first round picks, as well as the additional 3rd or #2 next year, to add starters (place settings) to their team!

If the Lions were a QB away (say Minnesota if they werent in denial about Tavaris Jackson) then I would say go for it. A teams success can change how it looks at the draft. The more holes a team has, the more it is about quantity of draft picks to fill multiple needs. Teams with fewer holes are more about specific players at specific positions to tweak or improve their already successful team. Jay Cutler, at multiple firsts, would fall into that category for me.

Denver is the one who created this mess, and Detroit has all the leverage in the world. They would be fine to sit back and roll with the picks and players they have. Cutler has put Denver in a position of weakness on this, and everyone knows it. They may keep a disgruntled QB this year and deal with it but certainly not 2 or 3. Not when they can get some value for him.

My take: One pick, and one pick only. Be it #1 overall, or #20, or #33. But one and only one of those picks. If a trade must involve multiple picks (and better value for the Lions, IMO) then trade #1 and #20 for Cutler and #12.

I would be happy with either of those. Thats it. Anything else is over-paying. The Lions have a dinner party for 22 coming up in the fall and right now they are short quite a few place settings. They cant afford to short those for one really nice knife.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Peterson: Yea, Curry Pay?, Step-up DL

Here are this week's questions for the Church of Schwartz:

1. Julian Peterson trade: Yay, Nay or Meh?

Right now, Yay. Ask me next January and I'll have a better answer. I looked at this trade pretty hard, and the main point is that the Lions were going to need 1 DT not on the roster in the draft whether they kept Redding or not. The FA pool of LB was pretty thin, and none of the ones worth overpaying at all even wanted to consider Detroit. I give Mayhew props for going out and getting a guy instead of just letting come what may.

I did a very detailed story on my blog last Sunday -- however, in my eyes he took Redding -- From a position where the Lions were say, 6/10 on a scale of no one to starters + Depth. They needed one starter. I don't see where that has really changed at all. However, at LB they went from a 3 up to about an 7. They had one starter -- Sims, and no depth. Getting an all-pro LB like Peterson in there allows for a guy like Dizon to be depth, and the Lions then only have one or two depth guys to get -- but more importantly, only one starter (MLB). It all hinges on how well those acquisitions do (Bodden trade looked good this time last year...) that truly answers this question. But as I said, my initial gut check after reviewing the situations is good deal for both sides.

2. What do you prefer: Aaron Curry at 1.1 or Stafford/OT at 1.1 and James Laurinaitis at 1.20?

Whoa there pilgrim! Stafford/OT and Laurinitis at 20 is my only option? Sorry, not sold on Laurinitis as more than a 2 down LB or run-stopping ILB in a 3-4. He may slip to the 2nd depending on what positions have a run. If the Lions stand pat with what they have, I can easily see the #20 pick being traded. There has been lots of movement of picks -- almost more trades than stand pat -- in the second half of the first round in recent years. Once the "money slots" are past, then teams start maneuvering to grab the guys they really want ala Ravens and Flacco, for instance. The #20 and #33 could get a lot of play, and turn into multiple picks each for the Lions.

As for Curry at #1 -- I am a total Curry fan. But the money has to work out. This is an ongoing little back and forth that NetRat and I have been having for the last couple of weeks. The most likely contract for #1 overall (non-QB) based on the slotted prior contracts and increase in the cap is likely to be (as per NetRat):

Estimated #1 overall draft pick non-QB contract

$2.5 million salary $2 mill roster bonus and $6 mill signing bonus year 1. Cap hit of $5.2 mill.
$3.85 mill salary guaranteed $2 mill roster bonus and another $18 mill signing bonus year 2. Cap hit of $11.05 mill
$5.2 mill salary $1 mill roster bonus and another $1 mill workout bonus year 3. Cap hit of $12.9 mill
$6.55 mill salary $1 mill roster bonus and another $1 mill workout bonus year 4. Cap hit of $14.25 mill
$7.9 mill salary $1 mill roster bonus and another $1 mill workout bonus year 5. Cap hit of $15.6 mill
Total $34.35 guaranteed, 5 years, $60 mill total.

Remember, the draft payscale is slotted, QBs get more, all the others get about the slotted amount, regardless of what position they play.

Keep in mind, Bart Scott's deal paid him $7 million a year as a top FA LB. Non-Pass rushing 3-4 LB (which are essentially DE's contractually/job wise) top out not much over that.

Take the top two LB drafted last year (all number from NFL.com Draft History)

9. Keith Rivers LB Cincinnati Signed 6 years, $23 million ($15.6M guaranteed)
10. Jerod Mayo LB New England Signed 5 years, $18.9 million ($13.8M guaranteed)

Now look at what #4 and #5 -- the lowest he is likely to slide -- got:

4. Darren McFadden RB Oakland Signed 6 years, $60 million ($26M guaranteed)
5. Glenn Dorsey DT Kansas City Signed 5 years, $51 million ($23M guaranteed)

From 5 to ten you are looking at an increase of $10 million in guaranteed money! AND the overall numbers (thought inflated more at the end) are also much higher. If the Lions believe there will be a salary cap in the new CBA, the only way I can see the Lions really being able to justify taking Curry that high will be if he is willing to sign a contract around the 28 million to 30 million max range. Even on a 6 year deal, he will end up being in the 10 mil a year range total -- about a 40% pay increase over the top LB. He's dead on when LB's are rooting for him to go #1 overall -- even if he takes a "lesser" contract, he'll still be setting huge records for LB pay and driving the costs up.

So why do I think the Lions may not do it? As NetRat says, it's all about the agents.

It hasn't happened (since salary cap was instituted), mainly because the agents know and the teams know the pay is slotted, higher for QBs, nearly the same for any other position and it's based on when drafted.

If an agent takes less, he will need to be able to defend his position on that to his potential clients the next year as all the competing agents are going to use it against him when trying to sign their clients. It's a cut throat business and agents play a fine line... they are not out for the team, they make money on the client, and they need more clients to make more money.

Curry is going to have to overcome quite a few obstacles to be the #1 overall selection. What we've seen about what Curry and the Lions are saying is that Curry is very much buying into being #1 overall. Just from his writing on SI.com and his statements, interviews...he wants it bad -- and not just for the money. Curry wants to be the first salary-cap era LB chosen #1 overall...only the 5th LB to go 1 overall in NFL draft... it's that even more than the extra money at #1 driving him. If he can get his agent to go along, and get a deal done that Detroit can live with money wise, then I am all for the pick -- and think the Lions will pull the trigger.

As for scenario 2, I say plan B. is an OT at 1 and trade 20. Otherwise, forget position and go BPA with 20 and 33. After all, it's not as if the Lions have so many stars that they couldn't go BPA the whole draft and upgrade with every pick in the first thru 3rd rounds.

3. Are any of the young linemen on the roster (Cohen, Ikaika A-F, Fluellen) capable of filling Redding's shoes?

All of the above. Based on what little we've seen, all three are capable of matching Redding's production at DT the last couple of years. Fluellen, with a fully healthy ifseason has a chance to get in there, and Cohen may turn out to be the steal of the draft. IAF will be the one that may slide to end at times on 1st and 2nd down, and then to DT on passing downs.

The real big factor is the Lions weren't planning on leaving Redding at DT -- the plan all along is the need to draft a run stuffing DT and that doesn't change with or without Redding. They have enough holes that they were willing to rotate in Coehn and Fluellen with Jackson & Draft pick to see what they have in them before deciding on what type of additional lineman they need. IAF will fill the the 3rd down inside rush role that Redding would have played -- and for less money. It remains to be seen if he will step up to the plate. But Redding wasn't last season so it was a question no matter what. If not, they can pick up another DT with what will likely be an early 2nd or 3rd in next year's draft.

This team has way too many holes to expect the starters to be filled in, much less the depth players, with quality talent in one ifseason.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Cutler Me Loose?

The big no-news story the last couple of days has, of course, revolved around the Jay Cutler saga. Drew Rosenhous is master of the player "spectacle" -- but Bus Cook is the grand master of the "saga". Must have been all those years working with Brett Favre.

For those of you living on another planet, Jay Cutler isn't really thrilled with Josh McDaniels and Denver's new GM. Make that totally hosed off. While there are a lot of calls of "whiny momma's boy" flying around about Cutler, every time I see McDaniels I can't help but think I'm listening to a shady car salesman tell me how that lil ol granny only drove this car to church on Sundays...

When the front office is making the agents look like the straight-up, forthright fellow...well, let's just say maybe Cutler was right to be ticked.

Can you see Detroit trying to trade away Cutler at this point? Indy trade Manning? Pitt trade Big Ben? Even listening?

Where there's smoke, there's something making it (most likely fire or a smoke bomb). Whichever it was, there was plenty of smoke coming out of Denver writing a clear signal across the NFL sky that they were open to entertaining offers...

Rookie GM, Rookie Coach... Rookie mistake thinking it would stay quiet. Today they made a lame excuse that they would think of trading him now (after he has demanded it and not shown up to OTA's after two conciliatory meetings were anything but...) but only for the right players -- they don't want draft picks.

Oh come on! They are desperately trying to get control of a situation that has been totally out of their control at a minimum the last 48 hours. They may show him the money and get him to stay, but 5 will get you 20 he's not a Bronco in 2009.

But will he be a Lion?

Denver's defense was almost as bad as Detroit's last year, and it was Cutler slinging the ball to Royal (who saved my fantasy season) and Marshall with whoever the Bronco's signed off the street that week running the ball that got Denver the wins it did...

Their offense was great...Defense got Shannahan fired.

So Cutler can get it done. He would have CJ as a target, a huge plus when trying to entice a QB. He would also have near deity status in Detroit so stroking the ego, no problem.

What would Detroit give for him? I have heard dozens of scenarios -- from the absurd to the pretty reasonable. A reworked deal will have to be part of any trade, and the Lions have a good relationship with Bus Cook (who is also CJ's agent) and plenty of cap space for a real QB -- especially since they could get another 5 mil back by dumping Culpepper if they land Cutler and keeping Stanton as the backup. Or reworking C-Pepps deal again.

But what would it cost?

Not too many players Detroit would want to give up that Denver would want. Broncos are switching to a 3-4 defensive scheme, and any 3-4 type guys the Lions have (Avril) are some of the few they want to build around. Offensively, I can't think of anyone the Broncos would want outside of Kevin Smith -- and even then, RB's are not too hard to find.

No, despite the senseless babble from the Broncos, it will be picks. I've heard of 3-way deals with Cleveland, but that seems a little too convoluted to work. There is a reason there aren't that many 3-way deals: too many moving parts, to easy to fall apart.

One scenario has Cutler for just #20. Seems a little light to me, but would be a coup for the Lions. Another is #20 and #82 - the Roy picks. I would take Roy for Cutler, essentially, straight up -- wouldn't you? Yet a third (and most often bandied about) is #1 overall and #20 for Cutler and #12. Denver gets #1 to take a new QB (Stafford) whom they can groom behind Simms for a year or two while they rebuild the D and still have #20 to help with that defensive rebuilding. Detroit would essentially be taking Cutler instead of Stafford with the #1 overall, and be moving up 8 spots to 12 where a big guy like Raji may be, one of the top OT's will likely still be around, as well as a couple of the top LB. In other words, Lions would have a QB AND have #12, 33, 65, 82 to develop the D.

Still, all of this is just rumor and speculation. Fortunately, after the ifseason so far while I can see that Mayhew will be aggressive in his moves he is not going to overpay by too much -- whether that is in draft picks or salaries. Sure, he'd like Cutler -- but Denver is the desperate one, and unlike Millen I don't think he is going to forget who is really in charge of the situation. Status quo for the Lions is just fine -- build with those picks. If the price is right however, Mayhew won't hesitate to buy.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

"I want to move it move it"

"I want to -- move it!" For those of you who have children, I'm sure you have seen Madagasgar by now. This dance bit, of course, introduces King Julian of the Lemurs... so I figured it was appropriate to introduce the Lions' new pro-bowl LB (yes -- Lions, Pro-Bowl, and LB all together) Julian Peterson!

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.

Details:

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
2013: FA

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.)

Reaction:

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)

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Working on a Peterson Post

Just so those of you who are checking know, I am currently working on a comprehensive Peterson post.

Look for it in the next couple of hours.

DF79

Friday, March 13, 2009

Possible Comp Picks

Here is a link to the projected compensatory picks for the 2009 draft, based on 2008 FA. He has done a great job with his projections, especially the last couple of years. I typically use them when I'm looking at how the draft may shake out early on. The real comp picks will be announced around the 22nd or 23rd of March -- til then, this article gives you a good rule of thumb to go by.

As you can see, he projects Detroit getting two late 7th rounders. Not much, but hey -- couple good picks to take fliers on positions of need -- say returner? -- or for depth at spots like TE?

Thursday, March 12, 2009

D Back There? Anywhere?

I'm just getting back from the flu, so only a short one tonight. (note: thanks for the update that mere minutes after posting my blog and sending in my answers to COS, my FA pick for the Lions to go after was signed by another team. Such is life.)

As the Lions have been addressing different positions in free agency, one thing they have quietly done is once again attempt to solidify the defensive backfield in free agency.

At Safetey, the Lions have Bullocks inked as one starter, but Alexander is a question mark due to his neck injury last season. This leaves Kalvin Pearson and Stu Schweigert to attempt to compete for the spot at this point (unless you think Lamarcus Hicks will be showing a sudden increase in skills.) I like Pearson as the 3rd Safety and he played very well on special teams. In a starting role, I really only want to see him in there situationally on running downs as he seems to be a good hitter, and as a rotational guy.

Depending on how the battles at CB turn out (more on that in a minute) I can also see Anthony Henry in the mix. If he moves to Safety, then I see him being a definite starter there. That gives the Lions some great cushion -- assuming their other CB acquisitions come through -- at Safety. Bullocks, despite the coaching woes, was really showing up as a solid safety after coming back from his knee injury. He is one of the few talented young defensive players the Lions can count on. If Alexander, who was had a great rookie year, is able to come back from his injury then the Lions would have Henry, Bullocks, Alexander and Pearson at S for now -- and that would be a solid rotation there.

That, of course, depends on how the CB situation works out. In my opinion (since Travis "I get dragged 10 yards even when I am anywhere near the intended receiver - which isn't very often" Fisher doesn't count in my mind...) the Lions have Fowler, Robinson, Buchanon, and Smith fighting as starters at this point (along with Henry). I'm not as down on Keith Smith as many, and think he is in a make-it or break it year. Same with Robinson, although his is more of a make it as a backup/ST or be out football vs making it as a starter, or ending your career as a backup.

As it stands, I'd say at least 2 out of Fowler, Buchanon and Smith will beat out Henry to start at CB. If they don't, then either they are way worse than I thought or Henry isn't slowing down as quick as I thought, or both. Since this is my projection, I have Henry moving to S and Fowler and Buchanon winning out as starters, with Robinson and Smith as the reserves (Along with Henry sliding over from S, of course).

Unlike last year's backfield fix, this year they did not sign a guy on his way downside (Kelly) -- but traded for a guy (Henry) who would have been starting at CB or S for Dallas. Buchanon isn't a top tier CB, but he was a starter in Tampa, they wanted him back - but as a 3rd CB to give a younger guy (sheesh - he's only 28!) a chance...

In regards to FA and the draft, depending on where they see Henry going the Lions may need either another CB or S in the draft/FA yet. (preferably one who returns kicks. Cason better not be on the final roster!) The key is, that the Lions should be able to pass in a fairly CB/S thin draft if they feel other players are better. This team isn't on the cusp of a Superbowl run -- they have so many holes that no matter what they do in the draft, they are going to have parts of the team that end up "good enough for now" going into next season.

At this point, I think the defensive backfield is one of them. BTW - if they sign Carr as a CB/PR/KR, then I think that is a clear sign that Henry is headed to S.

Lions Congregation: Week 3

Here are my answers to this week's burning questions from the Lions Congregation. I submitted my answers late (so they may not be up at this juncture) as I have been knocked out with the flu since late Tuesday evening.

Great comments by everyone so far, and some really good points made. Hey nubs - which Smith? Andre or Jason?

1. Who's the one remaining free agent you'd most like to see the Lions go after?

I would like to see them bring in FB Mike Karney. He is an aggressive blocker, and would be a good complement to Felton in the FB stable. Felton can be a good all around blocking back, short yardage back and even decent WR out of the backfield -- but Karney is the kind of hammer in the run game the Lions have been lacking since Sledge was breaking facemasks.

2. In your opinion, if we acquire a quality SAM backer, can Jordon Dizon start in the middle and succeed?

I am not convinced that he can, but I'm not convinced he can't either. Really, we just haven't seen enough of him anywhere on the field to know -- and honestly, how many of the player evaluations from the prior staff do you really trust? I mean, Avril was practically inactive half the season, and look at how well he did when he finally hit the field!

3. What are your thoughts about where Bryant Johnson fits into the offense?

He is a solid #2 WR. He ws fighting through injury, and playing in a Mike Martz offense that favors the slot WR these days (ala Furrey's big year). I think he has what it takes to be a solid #2 WR. He is not the kind of guy defenses will plan around, but he will beat single coverage most of the time, and that is all you need to either take coverage away from CJ and/or keep the D-Backs away from crowding Kevin Smith in the run game.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

DetFan1979 Manly Draft

Based on my post yesterday, and my other posts, you may wonder where I stand this season regarding the draft. Well, here it is:

For The Record: Especially because of all the holes the Lions have, I would say damn anything else and go for the #1 player on my board at #1 as long as he signs a reasonable contract before the draft. If he balks a bit, move to #2 and see if that motivates him.

I'd then go BPA all the way down the draft this year. Honestly, at how many positions are the Lions so set that having "need" is a worry???

Just threw out the salary thing as an added zest to a different kind of argument than him vs him, contract vs contract value for them instead... Like I said yesterday, if you're okay with the contract, you're okay with whatever selection you make.

BPA to me isn't just top player at his position, but one who I am convinced will make the most impact at the NFL level right now of all the players left in the draft. So at #1 overall, I'd take the #1 guy on my board. At #20, whoever is the highest name not crossed out. Repeat.

Honestly ask yourself this question, and you will best see how I would make the selection:

If I knew I had the #1 pick in the draft, but didn't know which team I was drafting for, who would I take? (this eliminates needs, scheme, everything but the player and his position)

My Answer: Stafford would ride the pine on many teams. No. Smith and Monroe would be a marginal upgrade at best for about half the teams, and may not start for others. No. Orapko? You're kidding, right? Curry... he can play all three positions, and even played at nickle-back in college, so he can line up at LB, put him on the line, cover a LB. Rush him or drop him into coverage. And, with his skill set there isn't a team in the league -- from the Steelers to the Pats on the top echelon's of defenses that he wouldn't be able to make an immediate impact on.

Your Answers??

New Logo Soon!

A couple of things have come together to point to the Lions having a new Logo soon -- as pointed out by Tom Kowalski on Mlive.com. It fits well, and I got a heck of a deal on some stuff at the Lions store this weekend. There isn't much left, to be honest, but there are still some awesome deals and Lions gear is Lions gear to me.

An interesting point to note in all this is that the change request for the Logo and Unis would need to have been put through last December at the latest in order to be approved for use this year. That means Mayhew and Lewand planned ahead well. Even if they had not gotten the job, the new front office would have been able to sweep in with a new look. Very thoughtful.

Now, I wonder what it will look like?

Monday, March 9, 2009

Curry for your Draft?

With Mike Mayock today stating he would go with Curry or one of the top two tackles if he were the Lions because there are too many questions about Stafford, Curry fever is in full swing in Detroit. However, as usual, I like to take a bit different view on things.

This article also talks about the pros, cons, and economics of the first pick overall and is a good read.


NetRat and I (among others) have been having an interesting dialogue on this subject -- in particular the salary ramifications of the first pick. While I already summarized this in brief before FA started, I feel it is good to look at again:

As Per NetRat:

Any non-QB a 5 year, $60+ million contract with $30 to $32 million guaranteed.
It will start off in the $4 to $5 mill cap hit range year one and escalate upwards of $16 to $17 mill in year 5.

Just take the average though, $12 mill a year for 5 years (that is NOT what he will actually get paid, that is his average)

ALL linebackers in the NFL get an average of $9 mill or less per year.

Now, forget the Lions' needs and forget who your fav draftee is... just look at the contracts in the draft from last year and then look at ALL the linebackers in the NFL... now be honest, where does Curry get drafted at, based on salary?

lets take another different view. Narrowing down to Stafford and Curry -- both are gambles in different ways.
Stafford is a gamble because he is not the best player in the draft, he is an underclassmen QB which adds a statistically significant increase to the already high bust potential for 1st round QB's. But, the salary is more in line with QB money -- albeit Peyton Manning range.

Curry is a gamble because he is above the Ray Lewis range by a couple mil a year. But by the end of his contract, where will that number be? If he works out, that number could end up right or even below average for a top LB. But he would have to be a top LB in the league almost right out the gate. As with all draft picks, the bust factor is there, but isn't as highly probable in first round LB.

So which gamble do you take? The higher-stakes, but more in-line with tradition QB pick and hope he is the next Matt Ryan and not the next Joey Harrington? Or do you gamble on the unorthodox and say defense is just as important as offense, and it's about stopping people not just sacks?

I looked at the At numbers for salaries, and while the #1 money doesn't put him above the top QB's by a couple million, it would put Stafford in the Brady/Manning/Rothlisburger range.
So do you overpay a LB by a couple mil a year and hope he's a HOF caliber, or do you pay Stafford like a future Pro-Bowl QB and hope he lives up to that? And if both come in a notch lower, or even in the good but not great department, which puts you further behind?

You can't ignore the cap -- but I think that is the real gamble with Curry --- are you comfortable with the salary. If the answer is yes, then you should have no problem taking him. Stafford or one of the LT's have a similar salary conundrum as either would become the highest paid LT in the league.

Just getting to a point that if you are OK with the salary, you will be fine with Curry at 1. If you are not okay with a rookie LB making 2 mil a year more than the Ray Lewis' of the NFL, then you will not be considering Curry at 1.

So really, it DOES all come down to salary because you have to be okay paying the right LB that kind of money before you can even look at if Curry is the right LB. If you aren't ok with the salary, you won't waste time looking at does he fit.

Kinda like having 100k to spend in one spot. If I'm not okay with a 100k price tag on a car, I'm not going to bother wasting time comparing cars to other purchases I can make because I have already eliminated "car" from the list. So the salary argument has merit. However, it is not the be-all-end-all. It is merely one more thing to take into consideration when you are weighing who to pick at #1 overall in 2009...