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A look back at the Lions' offseason trades

The Detroit Lions have made numerous trades this offseason. Let's recap them.

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The Detroit Lions have had a surprisingly busy offseason on the trade market. Lions general manager Martin Mayhew seemed to be really active on the trade market in his first couple of years on the job, but aside from moving around in the draft, deals involving players had been few and far between in recent years.

This year, however, the Lions have already made five total trades: three involving players and two involving strictly draft picks. Here's a recap:

Trade No. 1: Haloti Ngata to Detroit

Lions received

DT Haloti Ngata
2015 seventh-round pick, No. 231 (traded to Buccaneers in separate deal)

Ravens received

2015 fourth-round pick, No. 122 (DE Za'Darius Smith)
2015 fifth-round pick, No. 158 (traded to Cardinals in separate deal)

After losing Ndamukong Suh, the Lions acted quickly to acquire Haloti Ngata from the Ravens in exchange for their picks in the fourth and fifth rounds. The Lions also got a seventh-round pick back in the deal, which was used in their next offseason trade...

Trade No. 2: George Johnson to Tampa Bay

Lions received

2015 fifth-round pick, No. 168 (FB Michael Burton)

Buccaneers received

DE George Johnson
2015 seventh-round pick, No. 231 (FB Joey Iosefa)

The Lions turned that seventh-round pick from Baltimore into a fifth-rounder by moving restricted free agent George Johnson in a trade with the Buccaneers. Johnson signed an offer sheet that the Lions didn't seem interested in matching, but by contesting the deal and what exactly they had to match, they were able to pull off a trade. If you combine the Ngata and Johnson deals together, it can be broken down like this:

Lions received

DT Haloti Ngata
2015 fifth-round pick, No. 168 (FB Michael Burton)

Lions gave up

DE George Johnson
2015 fourth-round pick, No. 122
2015 fifth-round pick, No. 158
2015 seventh-round pick, No. 231

Essentially, the Lions gave up a restricted free agent whose offer sheet they weren't going to match, a fourth-round pick, a seventh-round pick and 10 spots in the fifth round in order to get Ngata. That's a lot, but then again, the Lions really needed someone to fill the void at defensive tackle, and after sacrificing those 10 spots in the fifth round, they came away with a likely starter at fullback.

Trade No. 3: Manny Ramirez to Detroit

Lions received

OG Manny Ramirez
2015 first-round pick, No. 28 (OG Laken Tomlinson)
2015 fifth-round pick, No. 143 (traded to Vikings in separate deal)
2016 fifth-round pick

Broncos received

2015 first-round pick, No. 23 (DE Shane Ray)

This was an incredibly lopsided deal in my view. For moving down five whole spots, the Lions got a veteran offensive lineman who can play both guard and center, a fifth-round pick this year and a fifth-round pick next year. After moving down, the Lions drafted a likely Day 1 starter in Laken Tomlinson. Then, later in the draft, the Lions used that 2015 fifth-rounder to move up and get cornerback Alex Carter in the third round, as you'll see below.

Trade No. 4: Moving up in the third round

Lions received

2015 third-round pick, No. 80 (CB Alex Carter)

Vikings received

2015 third-round pick, No. 88 (DE Danielle Hunter)
2015 fifth-round pick, No. 143 (TE MyCole Pruitt)

To jump up eight spots and ensure they would get Carter, the Lions sent that 2015 fifth-round pick from the Broncos trade to the Vikings. Was it really necessary to move up for Carter? I suppose we'll never know, but clearly the Lions didn't want to take a chance, and it's worth noting that the San Diego Chargers took a cornerback (Craig Mager) three picks later.

Trade No. 5: Moving into the fourth round

Lions received

2015 fourth-round pick, No. 113 (DT Gabe Wright)

Eagles received

2016 third-round pick

The final trade of the offseason so far is quite straightforward. In order to get a fourth-round pick, the Lions traded away their third-round pick in 2016. The reason they did this is because they will likely get a third-round compensatory pick for losing Suh in free agency. So although the Lions are now down their regular 2016 third-round pick, they will likely have the 33rd pick of the third round anyway.


In theory, if you throw the Lions' five trades together, this is what they gained and lost:

Lions gained

DT Haloti Ngata
OG Manny Ramirez
8 spots in the third round
9 spots in the fourth round
2016 fifth-round pick

Lions lost

DE George Johnson
5 spots in the first round
10 spots in the fifth round
2016 third-round pick

This is obviously oversimplifying everything, and it's not like all of these trades were connected to one another. However, I guess my point is that the offseason is really a marathon. Along the way, there will be developments at certain mile markers, and at certain points in the race those developments could be quite significant. However, as the race progresses, there will be more developments, and you can only truly see the big picture once you complete your run.

In the Lions' case, this marathon is far from finished considering it's only May, and many additional moves may still be coming for all we know. But if you look back on what they've accomplished so far, at least via trades, it can be boiled down to what you see above. The Lions ultimately added a starting defensive tackle and a veteran interior lineman in Ngata and Ramirez, and they gained eight spots in the third round and nine spots in the fourth round, as well as a future fifth-round pick. This ended up costing them a restricted free agent who was likely headed out the door anyway once the Lions put such a low tender on him (that's an entirely different discussion for another day), five spots in the first round, 10 spots in the fifth round and a future third-round pick.

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