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Eagles fleece Lions in three-team trade that sends LB Ernie Sims to Philly

ESPN’s Adam Schefter confirms that the Lions have acquired tight end Tony Scheffler and a 2010 seventh-round pick from the Broncos, as part of a three-team trade that also sent linebacker Ernie Sims to the Eagles in exchange for a 2010 fifth-round pick. (The Broncos get the fifth round pick from this deal.)

There are some concerns that 2009 first rounder Brandon Pettigrew isn’t recovering from the torn ACL he suffered last season and that’s why Detroit needed Scheffler. But to give up a solid playmaker in Sims in order to acquire a semi-productive Scheffler and a seventh round pick is questionable to say the least.

Sims is coming off his worst year as a pro after only recording 49 tackles in 11 games during an injury-plagued season. But in his three previous seasons, he produced an average of 124 tackles without missing a game due to injury. When healthy, the 25-year-old can be extremely productive and therefore was a great catch for an Eagles team that desperately needed help at the linebacker position.

Maybe Detroit GM Martin Mayhew knew that the Lions weren’t going to re-sign the former first overall pick, which is why he decided to fill his need at tight end and get something for Sims now. But in terms of value, only Matt Millen could appreciate a deal like this (which is maybe why they made the move in the first place – to wash their hands of anything Millen ever touched). The Eagles essentially traded a fifth round pick for Sims, while the Lions traded Sims for Scheffler. That’s what this trade boils down to, which is an awful deal if you’re a Detroit fan.


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2009 NFL Preview: #32 Detroit Lions

Check out all of our 2009 NFL team previews.

Offseason Additions: Julian Peterson (LB); Larry Foote (LB); Phillip Buchanon (CB); Grady Jackson (DT); Bryant Johnson (WR).

Offseason Losses: Leigh Bodden (CB); Shaun McDonald (WR); Mike Fuerry (WR); Shaun Cody (DT); Paris Lenon (LB); George Foster (OT); Dan Orlovsky (QB).

Player to Watch: Louis Delmas, S.
Delmas, the Lions’ second round pick this year, immediately started turning heads in OTAs and continued to impress coaches with his aggressiveness and tenacity throughout training camp (although he did miss time due to a swollen knee). The former Western Michigan product is already drawing comparisons to the Colts’ Bob Sanders, which is quite a compliment considering how accomplished Sanders is. Delmas isn’t afraid of contact and flies to the football. While he needs to develop his pass coverage skills, he might lead the Lions in tackles this season.

Team Strength: There isn’t one positional unit on this team that can be deemed a strength, although wide receiver Calvin Johnson is so good that he can probably carry the moniker on his own. Johnson is a phenomenal athlete and gives the Lions’ offense a dynamic playmaker at receiver. Opposing teams try to blanket him in coverage and he still finds ways to get open and come away with the ball. As long as he stays healthy (he missed two weeks of training camp with a sprained thumb), CJ is in store for another monster season, no matter whom the Lions wind up starting at quarterback.

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The top five best, worst and most improved offensive lines in the NFL

There’s a secret that most good fantasy football owners don’t want you to know: Knowing how good (or how bad) an offensive line is could be the difference between you making the playoffs in your league, and winning the whole damn thing.

The bottom line is that the offensive line is the key to whether or not an offense is going to be successful in any given season. They’re the reason why guys like Tom Brady, Peyton Manning and Drew Brews are able to rack up terrific passing yards year in and year out, and why Brandon Jacobs, Michael Turner and Adrian Peterson continue to be solid fantasy backs. So knowing which O-lines are quality and which act like revolving doors to their team’s backfield will give you an edge on draft day.

Below is a ranking of the top five best lines, the top five most improved lines and the top five worst lines in the NFL heading into the ’09 season. Use these rankings as a tool to help you make better decisions on draft day and to also aid you when you’re stuck between a couple of players in later rounds.

Granted, we’re not advocating bumping certain players to the top of your pre-draft rankings just based on these rankings. The Lions offensive line is the worst in football, but if Kevin Smith is there for the taking in the 5th round, by all means jump on him. This article is purely meant to be a helpful aid; obviously you still have to use solid judgment on draft day.

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Will Stafford start for Lions in Week 1?

There have been mixed reports the past couple days on whether or not rookie Matthew Stafford will start under center for the Lions in Week 1 of the 2009 season.

ESPN’s John Clayton says no chance:

It would take an incredible preseason for rookie Matthew Stafford to beat out Daunte Culpepper in Detroit, but Stafford does have an incredible arm.

Lions beat writer Tom Kowalski says he might:

The reality is Stafford, the first overall pick in the draft, is on the fast track to become the Lions’ starting quarterback when the season opens Sept. 13 in New Orleans. So far, Stafford has passed every test with flying colors and cleared every hurdle with plenty of room to spare.

I should note that Kowalski stressed that the Lions are going to proceed with extreme caution with Stafford and that fans should exercise some patience when it comes to the former No. 1 overall pick starting this season. But it is interesting to see two members of the national media come to two different takes on this subject. And before anyone discredits Kowalski (especially when compared to Clayton’s take), keep in mind that he spends more time at Allen Park than Clayton does.

Personally, I think the Lions should park Stafford on the sidelines until GM Martin Mayhew is able to build a more talented roster. Wide receiver Calvin Johnson is a stud, running back Kevin Smith is a developing player, and rookie tight end Brandon Pettigrew could emerge as a quality playmaker as well. But Detroit’s offensive line is brutal and there’s no need for Stafford to get trampled on with Daunte Culpepper willing and waiting to serve as a beating post for opposing defenders. Plus, the defense might show a little bit of improvement this year with the additions of Larry Foote, Phillip Buchanon, Grady Jackson and Louis Delmas, but chances are the Lions are still going to be playing from behind a lot this season, which is never a good situation for a rookie quarterback trying to learn on the job.

Detroit should let Culpepper play rag doll this season and give Mayhew at least one more offseason to acquire more talent. Then maybe next year Stafford can become the full-time starter.

Lions sign linebacker Larry Foote

According to Mlive.com, the Lions have reached an agreement with former Steelers’ linebacker Larry Foote, who will play middle linebacker for them next season.

Foote, who turns 29 next month, is hoping to eventually sign a more lucrative contract after this season turned down the two-year offer.

Foote, a seven-year veteran, was a full-time starter for the Steelers for the last five seasons and didn’t miss a game during that span. Foote’s tackling numbers have declined in each of the last four years, from a high of 102 in 2005 to 63 last season.

Now we know why Lions’ GM Martin Mayhew passed on a middle linebacker with the No. 20 and No. 33 picks in last month’s draft when USC’s Rey Maualuga and Ohio State’s James Laurinaitis were still on the board. Mayhew knew that the Steelers would eventually release Foote and that he wanted to come to Detroit, which is where he grew up and attended high school.

Mayhew has done a nice job in his first offseason with the Lions. He added talent via the draft in quarterback Matthew Stafford, tight end Brandon Pettigrew and safety Louis Delmas and he has signed quality role players in free agents Grady Jackson, Philip Buchanon and now Foote. Whether or not all of his moves will pan out is still up in the air, but Lion fans have to at least be pleased that Mayhew has a plan and is executing it.

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