Detroit Lions: The 2011 NFL Draft Is Over, Trade Talks Are the Only Game in Town

Pancho SmithCorrespondent IIMay 10, 2011

Lions Traded for Shaun Hill
Lions Traded for Shaun HillAndrew Burton/Getty Images

Many people are under the impression that since the 2011 draft is over and a decision by the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals to grant a full stay of Judge Susan Nelson's decision to enjoin the lockout is pending, team organizations are at a complete standstill.

While it’s true that teams are prohibited from having any contact with players and their agents during the lockout, there is no prohibition against them talking with each other about potential trade deals during this period.

Trade discussions are more complex this year because no one is certain whether players whose contracts have expired and who have accrued three or four years of NFL experience will become or remain restricted free agents once the 2011 league year begins.

However, teams can tentatively agree on potential trade deals contingent on 2011 free agency rules, and it’s not unreasonable to believe that these discussions have and will continue to occur.

Detroit’s Trade Scorecard

In 2008, then-acting GM Martin Mayhew traded Lions’ wideout Roy Williams to Dallas for the Cowboys’ 2009 first-, third- and sixth-round draft choices. This deal allowed Detroit to acquire Brandon Pettigrew, Derrick Williams and Aaron Brown in the draft.

Since 2009, the Lions have worked numerous trade deals, some of them involving three teams, to bring quality players like Shaun Hill, Rob Sims, Tony Scheffler, Chris Houston, Corey Williams, Alphonso Smith and Lawrence Jackson to Detroit.

Some trades weren’t as productive for the Lions (Julian Peterson from Seattle for DT Cory Redding, Ko Simpson from Buffalo for a late round 2010 pick and Gerald Alexander for Dennis Northcutt).

The Lions have also claimed players off the waiver wire and then traded them for draft picks (QB Kevin O’Connell to the Jets and tackle Tyler Polumbus to Seattle)

On balance, Lions’ GM Martin Mayhew and head coach Jim Schwartz have done very well in trade deals.

Draft Picks as Trade Ammunition

Trades typically involve exchanging players and/or draft picks.

In 2010, for example, Detroit traded DE Robert Henderson and a 2010 5th round pick to Seattle in exchange for guard Rob Sims and a 2010 7th round pick.

The Lions also traded a 6th round 2011 draft pick for DE Lawrence Jackson; a 2010 6th round pick and 2011 7th round pick for CB Chris Houston; and a 2011 7th round pick for QB Shaun Hill.

In other trade deals, Detroit dealt TE Dan Gronkowski and a 2011 6th round pick for CB Alphonso Smith, and gave a 2010 5th round pick to Cleveland to acquire DT Corey Williams plus the Browns 2010 7th round pick. 

The More Draft Picks a Team has the Better

Since draft picks are often used as trade currency, the more draft picks that a team has, the better.

As it stands now, the Lions will have six picks in the 2012 draft. They forfeited their 2012 7th round pick as a result of a tampering penalty involving Kansas City.

Generally, the Lions will try to avoid trading away future draft picks this year. Mayhew and Schwartz believe (correctly) that the best way to assemble a winning team for the long haul is through the draft.

The odds of adding players who will end up contributing to a team’s success increase with the number of draft picks a team can exercise.

Even though it has widely been acknowledged that the Lions had a very good draft this year, they had only five picks to work with.

Although the Lions should have fewer needs next year than they did this year, Detroit would like to increase the number of draft picks it has in 2012, not decrease them to facilitate trades.

Ideally, the Lions would like to engineer trades that involve dealing one player for another and yield additional draft picks to Detroit.

However, those types of deals typically involve trading a valuable player for an ostensibly less valuable player, and the Lions have a shortage of impact players under contract they would be willing to part with.

Players with one year or more remaining on their contracts before they become free agents are generally potential trade bait if the price is right.

The table below lists some of the players the Lions might be willing to trade this year:




Contract Expiration.


Maurice Morris




Aaron Brown




Matt Clapp




Bryant Johnson




Derrick Williams




Jason Hanson




Richard Dickson




Tony Ugoh



Another Way of Accumulating Additional Tradable Draft Picks

If a team does not want to part with a quality player who has become a restricted free agent (RFA), they can make a qualifying offer to them.

Making a qualifying offer to a RFA gives a team the “right of first refusal” and provides it with draft pick compensation if they decline to match an offer that a RFA may receive from another team.

In these cases, the draft pick compensation a team receives depends on the level of the tender offer they made to a departing RFA.

There are four tender offer levels and they are each associated with minimum salary offers that changes from year to year:

-1st and 3rd round pick

-1st round pick

-2nd round pick

-Players original draft round

While draft pick compensation for departing RFAs is not the ideal way to acquire additional draft picks, it sometimes works out well in the end.

Good NFL Organizations Never Rest

General managers and head coaches have to really love the game of football to be good at what they do.

Martin Mayhew and Jim Schwartz are steadily proving to Lions fans that not only do they love the game, but that they are both very capable, highly motivated men who are committed to bringing multiple championships to Detroit.

Schwartz and Mayhew never stop evaluating talent. Whether they are planning for a draft, a free agency acquisition period, or constantly scouring the waiver wire, they will leave no stone unturned in search of upgrades to the Lions roster.

Trades have been an important component in the Lions’ rebuilding effort. Rest assured that Martin Mayhew has and will explore numerous potential trade scenarios and will be prepared to act quickly once given the green light if good trade opportunities exist.

After all, trade negotiations are the only NFL game in town right now and the Lions are on the prowl for a playoff spot.


    Players Under the Most Pressure at Minicamp

    Detroit Lions logo
    Detroit Lions

    Players Under the Most Pressure at Minicamp

    Maurice Moton
    via Bleacher Report

    Brett Favre Looking to End Youth Tackle Football

    NFL logo

    Brett Favre Looking to End Youth Tackle Football

    Green Bay Packers
    via Green Bay Packers

    Report: Winston Was Alone with Uber Driver

    NFL logo

    Report: Winston Was Alone with Uber Driver

    Adam Wells
    via Bleacher Report

    Report: Gene Steratore to Join CBS as Rules Analyst

    NFL logo

    Report: Gene Steratore to Join CBS as Rules Analyst

    Alec Nathan
    via Bleacher Report