J Pat Carter/Associated Press
The starting four along the defensive front was already in place heading into free agency. Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley will man the tackle spots, while Ezekiel Ansah will start at right defensive end. At left end, either Jason Jones or Devin Taylor will earn the starting nod, while the other will play a prominent reserve role.
But there was a crying need for more depth at both tackle and end. After all, the only other tackle on the roster two weeks ago was yeoman veteran C.J. Mosley, while 2013 starting end (in place of an injured Jones) Willie Young left via free agency.
Mayhew did a fine job in restocking the bottom of the depth chart.
New additions to the den include:
- Defensive tackle Corvey Irvin
- Defensive end Darryl Tapp
- Tackle Vaughn Martin
- Tackle/end Andre Fluellen
Of course, Irvin and Fluellen both have prior stints in Detroit. Their tenures might not last very long, either, but they bring inexpensive experience and depth.
Martin and Tapp are definite keepers. Both figure to occupy the fourth spot in the rotation at their respective positions, roles that inferior journeyman (like Fluellen) have manned in recent years.
Tapp signed for one year at an economical rate of $920 thousand. He offers the exact same number of sacks (8) as Young over the last four seasons, while Young signed for $9 million over three years in Chicago.
He also has experience with new defensive coordinator Teryl Austin from their time in Seattle together. While Tapp's role with Washington was limited last season, he still made an impact:
Martin also signed for just under $1 million for 2014. A fourth-round pick by the Chargers in 2009, the 330+ pound Martin offers a lot of functional beef to fortify the line.
These are not moves that will move the meter, but the Lions are quietly a better team with the additions. Mayhew inexpensively filled vacancies with proven NFL talent that is better than the players they are replacing on the 53-man roster.