It’s no secret that Lions general manager Martin Mayhew likes a good deal when he sees one.
He traded the long-lost Ernie Sims to Philadelphia in a three-way deal that sent Tony Scheffler to Detroit. He sent next year's fifth-round draft choice to Seattle for starting left guard Rob Sims and next year's sixth-rounder to the Seahawks for defensive end Lawrence Jackson.
He has upgraded every group on both sides of the ball this offseason.
Sure, the Lions could use some depth on the offensive line or a less risky player than Zach Follett at weak side linebacker. Sure, they could find a definitive kick/punt return man or a healthy backup for nicked-up middle linebacker DeAndre Levy.
I think many would agree, though, that if they could fill one position on this squad, it would lie somewhere within the secondary.
Young cornerbacks and a giant gap at strong safety will make for a difficult defensive strategy. The only real constant back there is free safety Louis Delmas, who is not only one of the premier young players in the game, but also the leader of the secondary.
While Randy Phillips, C.C. Brown, and Amari Spievey have been fighting it out for that SS spot, not one of them has impressed enough to own it. What could be better than injecting a five-time Pro Bowler to both lead and dominate a position that is so far up in the air?
It was reported Monday night that the Saints are pondering their options with safety Darren Sharper. Knee surgery in February has sidelined Sharper, and his coach, Sean Payton, has publicly said that three options remain: Darren could start the season on the physically unable to perform list, he could start on the active roster, or he could be cut.
The Lions have flirted with banged-up safeties in the past (Brock Marion, anyone?), but Sharper could be the complete package for a young secondary in desperate need of both talent and experience. It doesn’t hurt that he played the majority of his career in the NFC North for both the Packers and the Vikings. It also doesn’t hurt that Sharper’s nine interceptions last season matched the entire Lions defense.
Gauging injuries can be very scary when it comes to signing a free agent, but you know what could be worse? Putting an undrafted rookie free agent, a pass risk veteran, or a rookie who just changed positions as your last man back.
In today’s NFL trade market, the value of an older player coming off a knee surgery could be a key factor in the Lions' ability to cover the pass. If Darren Sharper is cut and his knee checks out, the Lions must take a gamble.