Now, I know that good teams don't build through free agency; they build through the draft.
The Washington Redskins have taught us as much over the last few years with their many overpriced free agent signings that have done little to improve their squad.
But when you consider a team like the Detroit Lions with their many holes, I think you can throw the conventional wisdom out the window and try to land some solid free agents to provide a veteran core to place youthful draft picks around.
But it's important to conserve what assets you have in the process.
Enter new Detroit Lions football guru Martin Mayhew, who has proven he knows not only what pieces the Lions could use in free agency, but how to acquire them at the best possible price.
And it also goes the other way. He knows how to extract value from players the team is intent on getting rid of.
Look no further than the Roy Williams, Jon Kitna, and Corry Redding deals that he pulled off last year, ditching excessive salaries for under-performers, and garnering both integral players (Julian Peterson) and coveted draft picks in return.
And Mayhew has continued to use those late round draft picks to pick up value in free agency.
Some have argued that initially the Lions may have overpaid in free agency, particularly for WR Nate Burleson, but it was important to start out free agency with a splash to let other players know that the Lions were serious about turning their club around.
And by front-loading the contracts they handed out, they were able to take advantage of the NFL's uncapped season to land some admirable talent.
In a flash, positions of need were nicely filled, with Burleson taking over the No. 2 WR spot, while Kyle Vanden Bosch and Corey Williams solidified a porous defensive front.
Next, Mayhew went after some defensive secondary help by signing Chris Houston and squeezing Atlanta in the process. Instead of the initial cost of a sixth round pick and a swapped fifth rounder as reported by the Falcons, Mayhew made a tougher stance, citing a possible failed physical, to sneak away with Houston for a sixth rounder and a conditional seventh next year.
Nicely done, Mr. General Manager.
And now comes the news that the Lions have just traded for Seattle OG Rob Sims, thereby suring up what had been a big problem for the Lions and giving much maligned Jeff Backus some help over on that side of the line.
Though neither team has confirmed the trade, it appears to be a done deal according to MLive reporter Tom Kowalski who cites an un-named league source.
What did the Lions give up?
Well, even though Sims was tendered for a fourth round pick, Mayhew sent DE Robert Henderson (a practice squad player) and a fifth rounder to Seattle and got Sims and a seventh rounder back.
Mayhew does it again.
So while it seems clear that the Lions front office is serious about upgrading through free agency, they are also serious about getting it done at the right price, and this may be why some of the other free agents they've chosen not to pursue (Peppers, Hargrove, Robinson, Cromartie) were really never in their wheelhouse to begin with.
This guy knows what he's doing, and there are still a couple enticing free agents left on the market!
Will Mayhew pull the trigger again?
Well, that's anyone's guess, but if he does, I'm betting that he conserves his ammo and still hits the mark.