Another Millen era draft pick gone wrong, big Gosder Cherilus seems to not have that light bulb going off. Perhaps it is time for him to move on from the Lions. I started to think about this after hearing how utterly pissed Jim Schwartz was after the Lions game. Then I heard via Jason Laconfora that the Lions are not set with their team yet. Word on the street is that Martin Mayhew is shopping around for a big back and offensive line help in order to make a playoff run. The Lions want to get more physical at the point of attack and upgrade the line. So I put two and two together and hashed out several scenarios that came to mind.
1. Sign Leonard Davis: This already seems to be in the works and while we only have about 3.3 million of cap room available it might just be enough to secure him on a one year contract. Since week one has passed, and the two other teams interested in Leonard have not yet signed him, it leads me to believe that the Lions are still the for runner here. One of the other teams was the Bears, so a get here for us also hurts a division rival.
So what is the hold up? I am betting that Leonard wants a longer deal. Usually players in the end of their careers want longer deals with a decent signing bonus, to try and secure that one last contract that they can finish out on. If that is the case the Lions may need to free up some money and we could see some of the later moves I mention happen.
What would getting Leonard Davis get us? A serviceable, veteran, physical, guard that can come in and start day one and upgrade not only our physicality but also our mental discipline. The simplest move would be to just replace Stephen Peterman on the right side of the line. However if the Lions wanted to get fancy, and really upgrade the line, in my opinion moving Rob Sims to center would be the smart move.
That would give us an immediate impact player at center that is not only an upgrade, but a true difference maker and potential pro bowl caliber player to anchor our line for the next five plus years. With his familiarity in our scheme already there, on top of having Stafford there to help set protection, this could be a smooth transition and a rare move to replace a starting center mid season.
2. Start Jason Fox: If he is healthy enough, he seems to be ready to step in and take that role and it would be smarter to let him take his hard knocks early this season, and in the playoffs this year if we make it, instead of next year when we may be poised to contend for a Championship. This would give us a brand new left side and there might be some initial growing pains. However, in the long run, we would get younger at center and left tackle, the two anchor positions on the offensive line that are the hardest to develop and most important to build a strong unit. So WWJBD? yes that is right what would Jeff Backus do?
3. Slide Jeff Backus to the right side: This is where it gets a bit iffy. Putting Backus as the right tackle or right guard would give us another immediate impact player and upgrade that is pro bowl caliber. The question is which one do we replace, Peterman or Cherilus?
If you ask me the better move is to replace Cherilus. For one he has more trade value. For two, while Peterman gets his obligatory one or two penalties for trying to clean off the pile each year, Cherilus makes some serious critical errors that almost cause us to lose games. Not to mention that Gosder has more breakdowns in pass protection. If you ask me, Gosder belongs in a zone blocking scheme, where he can see the man, hit the man instead of have specific block assignments.
That being said Peterman is a viable option as well, and while he is a more solid player currently, he has no upside at all where Cherilus can still develop as a player. For arguments sake, and for my point of view, I am now going to work a trade for Gosder Cherilus, a former first round selection that still has some value in this league.
4. Trade Gosder Cherilus for a big back that can get tough yards and break arm tackles. My first thought here was, who needs a right tackle. Then I thought, oh the Kansas City Chiefs are coming into town, they could use one! Gosder would be a for sure upgrade for them and they have a stable of backs that will likely not see much action. The first one that comes to mind is the former fullback of the Ravens, LeRon McClain. In Baltimore he became disgruntled because he wanted more of a role in the offense and more carries in games. It is anice fit for the Lions since we just want a power back and do not actually use a fullback much. If this is a possible deal it might explain why nothing has broken yet. The teams would likely wait until after they play each other before making any sort of trade.
The next team to come to mind was the Seattle Seahawks. They are in dire need of line help and they run a ZBS (Zone Blocking Scheme). If for some reason they have fallen out of favor with Marshawn Lynch perhaps he could be available. This is not as likely since I believe they are still high on Lynch, but you never do know, they are a frequent trading partner with the Lions.
The next team to come to mind was the Buffalo Bills. Another frequent trading partner that has ties through ownership. This one got me REALLY excited. The possibility of getting Fred Jackson for Gosder Cherilus just about made me wet myself. Fred is a poor mans Adrian Peterson. He does not have quite the speed, strength, or cutting ability as Adrian, but he is a damn good running back in his own right and would fit right in that power runner role for us. In fact he could even be a bell cow to get 20+ carries a game and generally have a good shot at breaking 100 yards doing it. this move makes sense for the Bills since Fred was upset at losing carries to C. J. Spiller in the preseason. The Bills may just move him out of the way and let C. J. go, much like they moved Lynch last year.
Another former trading partner came to mind, the Denver Broncos. They could use some line help and they have Willis McGahee there. While he is not literally a big man, he does run big. This is not as likely to work because I think they are pretty high on Willis, they did just sign him this year and he is their number two back currently behind Knowshawn Moreno.
A bit far fetched but another possibility is the Baltimore Ravens. They have not be exactly ecstatic about Michael Oher as of late and may be looking to provide him with some competition. The Lions made a play for Rickey Williams but he signed with the Ravens. With a limited role on their offense, and the self professed man crush that Scott Linehan has on Rickey, this could be a move that makes sense for both teams.
The idea behind many of these moves it to cut one or more of the higher salaries off the Lions roster. If you ask me Raiola is weakest link and makes enough for it to possibly make the Leonard Davis deal work out. Hence the move of Rob Sims to center. After that the move to start Fox and push Backus to the right side, no matter if we replace Cherilus or Peterman, would likely free up the cash for both Davis and any one of the above running backs. And honestly, I would be happy with any of them. Though I do favor Fred Jackson and Marshawn Lynch since they are a bit younger and would be around long enough to make a push for a championship.
Either way though, adding Leonard Davis and a back the caliber of the names mentioned above would be a game changer for the NFC North, and should the Lions decide to get creative with the addition of Davis, by moving some pieces already in place around, the offensive line could get very good, very fast, along with adding a power run game into the mix. Maybe I am just dreaming but these are the kind of things that run wild in my head as a fan where there is too much time to go before kick off, and too little actual Detroit Lions news to read. I hope I gave you all at least some food for thought, and a glimpse of how this roster could change drastically, along with our playoff chances with just a couple of additions and subtractions.