Despite being the Lions' general manager for only three weeks, Martin Mayhew has already pulled off a better trade than Matt Millen ever did in his seven-plus years in Detroit. Mayhew managed to get a first-, a third-, and a sixth-round pick from the Cowboys in exchange for a seventh-round pick and Roy Williams, who was going to be a free agent after this season anyways. Not only did Mayhew pull in a lot for a player that may have been gone in a few months, but the deal itself came together very quickly.
Going into Tuesday, it looked like Roy Williams was not going to be traded. After all, Mayhew told Williams on Monday that a deal was unlikely, but the rumors persisted anyways. Things changed sometime Tuesday when the Lions received an offer from an unidentified team that got the ball rolling. Mayhew alerted a few other teams of the offer in order to give the Lions some leverage, and the deal came together from there.
My guess is that most of the teams alerted of the offer were in the NFC East. I can't say for sure if it was the Cowboys or someone else that made the first offer, but regardless, Mayhew was very wise in the way he handled things. It appears that he let other teams know of the offer simply to create more interest in Williams. Let's assume the Cowboys did make the first offer for a second just to think about how things may have played out. Mayhew could have gone to a team like the Eagles and let them know that a division rival was about to get a lot better. That could have prompted the Eagles to make an offer of their own, which may have in turn sweetened the pot for the Lions, as it caused Dallas to up the ante.
It was stated on SportsCenter last evening that the third-round pick the Lions got was thrown in at the last minute to make this deal happen. Mayhew probably was telling the Cowboys that if they didn't make a deal, he had a certain team from Philadelphia very interested in trading for the receiver or something like that. It may not have gone down exactly like that, but I'm thinking Mayhew definitely used the interest from other teams, whether it existed or not, to make the deal as good as possible.
Once the deal with Dallas was actually agreed to at "3:20 or 3:30" in the afternoon, there was still one thing that needed to be taken care of before it could be made official. Since Williams was set to be a free agent after the 2008 season, the Cowboys wanted to lock him up to make sure he is in Dallas for a long time. The Lions gave the Cowboys permission to start negotiating a long-term deal, and about 15 minutes before the trade deadline, Williams and Dallas agreed to a five-year contract and an average per year salary.
All parties involved in this trade came out of the deal smiling. Roy Williams now gets to play in his home state and for a good team, which is what he always wanted. The Cowboys got another Pro Bowl receiver and another weapon that makes their offense the most high-powered in the league. Finally, the Lions got three draft picks that will give them a chance to start greatly improving next April.
No matter how you look at this, the Lions made a great deal. Roy Williams leaving does not make much of a difference for the remainder of this season, because even with him the Lions weren't likely going to win very many games. His departure doesn't change that one bit. On top of that, Williams was going to be a free agent after the season anyways, and he would have left if he was given the chance. In all likelihood, the Lions would have franchised him, which would have caused them to spend a lot of money or trade him away. Even if the Lions did end up trading him then, there's no way they would have gotten as much as they did right now.
I have to give Martin Mayhew a pat on the back for making this trade happen. This move alone doesn't mean he should stay on as the GM beyond the 2008 season, but building his resume doesn't hurt his chances. Not only did he make the wise move of trading Williams when he did, but he got the Lions more than I ever thought they could in a deal like this. Obviously the next step is to use those draft picks wisely to make this team better, but we don't have to worry about that until the draft rolls around in April 2009. For now, we can thank Roy for the good things (let's just forget the bad) he did as a Lion and give kudos to Martin Mayhew for pulling off this trade. Everybody involved is better off for it.