Lions finally confirm trade
The Lions officially confirmed the Dennis Northcutt-for-Gerald Alexander trade late Wednesday afternoon, finally tying up the last loose end in the swap of the Lions' former second-round pick at safety, Alexander, to the Jacksonville Jaguars for the veteran wide receiver, Northcutt.
The move was first reported on Friday, but couldn't be finalized until the NFL office re-opened on Monday, and both players passed physicals with their new teams.
Stuck in a positional logjam with the Lions — who drafted a safety in the second round for the third time in four years this spring (Daniel Bullocks, Alexander, Louis Delmas) — Alexander was excited about the opportunity in Jacksonville.
"I'm just excited about being in this situation," Alexander told the Jaguars Web site. "Obviously, there is a shock value, but I'm looking forward to being part of this team. I have to move on to a new situation and learn a new system; get acquainted with a new group of people."
The shock to the whole deal is neither the Lions choosing to deal from an area of relative strength, nor the Jaguars adding to an area of weakness. Jacksonville was concerned about a lack of depth behind starting safeties Reggie Nelson and Sean Considine.
No, the shocking thing about the whole trade was the swapping of a veteran pass-catcher from one receiving-poor team to another, especially considering the investments the two franchises have made in that area. And the move is merely another step in the complete renovation of both teams' receiving corps.
Jacksonville nabbed former Rams Pro-Bowler Torry Holt in free agency, allowing the Jaguars to jettison a pair of former first-round busts at the position, by releasing the troubled Matt Jones and declining to re-sign Reggie Williams. Jerry Porter, a 2008 free agency addition, was also let go. The Jaguars drafted three wideouts — Arizona's Mike Thomas (fourth round), Rice's Jarrett Dillard (fifth round) and Rutgers' Tiquan Underwood (seventh round), but Holt is 33 and has had knee issues, and Northcutt, Jones, Williams and Porter accounted for roughly half the team's catches and TD receptions last year.
The Florida Times-Union has reported that the Jaguars staff didn't feel that Northcutt was still enough better than the rookies to justify the 10-year veteran's $2.75 million salary, and that the team will likely try to pick up another veteran receiver before training camp begins.
The Lions, on the other hand, are still searching for pass-catching options, despite the much-publicized and ill-fated run of No. 1 picks — Charles Rogers, Roy Williams, Mike Williams and Calvin Johnson — at the position. Only Johnson remains with the team (and only Roy Williams is also still in football), while Mike Martz proteges Shaun McDonald and Mike Furrey were let go in the offseason, replaced by veterans Ronald Curry, Bryant Johnson and third-round draft pick Derrick Williams.
Considering both teams' seemingly glaring need for wideout help, the whole thing reeks of a swap of damaged goods.