NFL Free Agency : Detroit Lions GM Martin Mayhew Turns Weakness into Strength

Kyle GibbonsAnalyst IIIJuly 31, 2011


Lost in the frenzy that was the Stephen Tulloch signing was the signing of another key component of Detroit’s defense in 2011: the signing of cornerback Chris Houston.

In reporting the teams’ acquisition of Tulloch this morning, I touched on the mentality Martin Mayhew and the Detroit Lions are operating under in terms of their approach to free agency.

In an article titled Lions' D Upgrades Again With Stephen Tulloch I said,

“In looking through the smoke, you can see the statement that the Tulloch signing represents.

"Detroit WILL NOT overspend for players. (This goes for current Lions unrestricted and restricted free agents, as well.)

"If I’m Chris Houston, I take a good hard look at what’s going on in Detroit and contemplate signing a smaller contract and getting into training camp as quickly as possible because Detroit could begin to look elsewhere.”

Not long after that, cornerback Houston and the Detroit Lions came to terms.

Mayhew said back in January that Detroit would place a high priority on bringing Houston back. He elaborated further, saying, “We don't know what his contract status is, whether we have the ability to tender him or not. We're preparing to tender him or deal with him and make him an offer. That's a guy we definitely want back."

The Lions did exactly what they said they were going to do—not “reach” in free agency. In doing so they acquired quality talent while addressing pressing needs, signing Tulloch, Justin Durant, Eric Wright and re-signing Houston.

Tom Kowalski of the reported that Houston, Tulloch and Wright are all making about $3 million per year, while the intricacies of Durant’s contract are still unknown.

The Detroit Lions have quietly solidified themselves by acquiring players in free agency with specific roles in mind, just as they did in April’s draft.

Detroit’s front seven heading into 2011 looks almost impenetrable. The addition of Wright to the secondary is a solid move.

Houston will most likely start opposite Wright, while Alphonso Smith’s and Nathan Vasher’s abilities are ideal in the nickel.

You add the healthy returns of Aaron Berry and Jack Williams, and you have what could be the best Detroit Lions secondary since the days of Bennie Blades and William White.