When he took over the 0-16 Lions, GM Martin Mayhew had a simple plan when it came to the draft, trades and free agents; get the best player available despite position. His methods seemed to work as the team went from 0-16 to 2-14, 6-10 and this season 10-6 with a playoff berth.
With the biggest roster moves in front of him in his tenure with the team, will Mayhew switch his method because of success? In an interview with Tim Twentyman it seems like he will stick the course:
It is a totally different scenario this offseason. In the past we have only been trying to acquire good players. Now that we have good players on our roster, we have decisions to make on those good players: which one we are able to keep, which ones we are not able to keep and can we replace those players with the same talent level at a better price, at the same price. What does it cost to replace those guys?
It will be one of the most challenging offseasons – probably the most challenging offseason – so far, because of where we are as a football team.
It seems like Mayhew understands the challenges in front of him and knows that this team is on the cusp of greatness. But before that greatness can be achieved some major issues need to be addressed.
To do with the current roster, DE Cliff Avril is a free agent after playing out his one-year deal with the team. Resigning him to a long-term deal will help keep the D-line one of the best in the NFL without having to bid against other teams for free agents.
If a long-term deal isn’t possible, the Lions could also choose to place the franchise tag on Avril, giving him a one-year deal for around $10.5 million. That would be a huge cap hit, but it could also give the team more time to work on a long-term deal.
Another obvious issue after being torched by the Packers and Saints in back-to-back weeks is the secondary.
Eric Lacy of the Detroit News has an extensive shopping list for the Lions that includes not only the secondary but offensive line, linebackers, running back, receiver/kick returner and defensive end if Cliff Avril isn’t resigned.
With the lockout and changes to the collective bargaining agreement, it is predicted that up to 25% of the players in the league could be free agents this offseason. That gives the Lions and Mayhew lots of options when it comes to improving this team.
Other than the draft and free agency, Mayhew has shown that he is one of the best GM’s in the league when it comes to finding a trade to help the team. Four of the teams 22 starters have been acquired by Mayhew via trade, Rob Sims, Tony Scheffler, Corey Williams, and Chris Houston.
Here is Mayhew on the “2 Live Stews” show on sports radio in Atlanta
It wasn’t a tough decision to draft Matthew Stafford or to draft Ndamukong Suh. We really believe in using every avenue to improve whether its trades, waiver claims, free agency, the draft and we’re not just focused on one avenue to go out and try to sign players. We use everything that’s available to us and the trades sort of just happened. We haven’t done any in a while but we plan to be aggressively looking to do some trades this year.
So with all of the options and needs the Lions have, what should the Lions go for first?