Ernie Sims Out, Tony Scheffler In: Are the Detroit Lions Crazy?

Joe HojnackiContributor IApril 19, 2010

GREEN BAY, WI - DECEMBER 28: Ernie Sims #50 of the Detroit Lions asks for an ruling from a referee during a game between the Lions and the Green Bay Packers on December 28, 2008 at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wisconsin. The Packers defeated the Lions 31-21. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Yes, and no.

When I first heard about the Ernie Sims for Tony Scheffler trade I thought the Lions were insane.

Upon further consideration, however, they are merely crazy and not full-blown mentally ill.

The Lions traded away a piece of the strongest part of their weak defense today for a tight end that may or may not be needed for the team's offense.

Yes, Scheffler has 14 touchdowns in four years with the Broncos, but is he necessary? The short answer is yes, if Brandon Pettigrew's knee rehab does not go as planned.

Scheffler gives the Lions a more viable backup plan at tight end should Pettigrew not recover from his Thanksgiving knee injury in time for the 2010 season. He also gives the Lions the bona fide ability to run a two tight end set, something that was a little shaky with Will Heller opposite Pettigrew.

Using two tight ends provides extra pass protection for a young quarterback and allows for more versatile blocking packages with a struggling running game.

Scheffler is not a long-term solution at tight end. He is playing under a one-year deal and is not seeking a new contract. So Detroit is not looking to him as a replacement for Pettigrew. He will end up as more of a place holder while Pettigrew recovers.

Not to mention he comes fairly cheap at $1.176 million.

The problem with this trade is that it makes another gaping hole in the middle of the defense. Detroit has now lost two of their starting linebackers from last year and they were the best part of the league's worst defense.

The team should focus on rebuilding their defense. Why, then, do they trade away what was a stronger part of the core? The linebackers are now down to DeAndre Levy, Julian Petersen, and whoever replaces Sims. It will either be Zach Follet or Jordan Dizon.

I can't say I am a real fan of the trade, but I also can't say I dislike it. In the end, the Lions weakened the defense to make the offense stronger, essentially creating a weak spot to fill another that might not even be there by the time the season begins.

So the Lions are insane for weakening an already weak defense, but they make up for it with improved offensive versatility. Only one thing will tell if this trade was worth it or not, and that is the 2010 season.