With the 2014 season just six weeks away, there are still some moves the Detroit Lions can make to help them become a playoff bound team. Most teams wait through training camp and preseason before effectuating trades, but bringing in someone early has its benefits as well. Here’s one trade I would consider on the eve of training camp;
Mikel Leshoure – RB
2014 Salary: $1,085,357
Contract: ends after 2014 season
The Lions have good depth at running back and it’s no secret Mikel Leshoure is buried on the depth chart. Despite there being rumblings about Lombardi using a platoon system and every player getting a “fresh start” under Caldwell, I can’t see Leshoure usurping either Bush or Bell.
Make no mistake about it though – Leshoure has the potential to be a starting caliber RB and teams know it. He was a second round pick for a reason – the guy is talented. I gave Leshoure a 6.9 (early second round) grade prior to the draft and I still think he can be a productive starting three down player in the NFL.
It comes down to the fact that the guy just hasn’t had his fair shot yet. Remember, he suffered an Achilles injury that made him lose his entire rookie season, and nobody would have predicted Joique Bell would emerge to be such an impactful player.
IN EXCHANGE FOR…
Nov 10, 2013; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Jaron Brown (13) is tackled by Houston Texans defensive back Brandon Harris (26) during the first half at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
Brandon Harris (CB)
2014 Salary: $1,049,907
Contract: ends after 2014 season
Harris, who is entering his fourth year with the Houston Texans, has not yet lived up to his lofty second round draft status. Sometimes it’s a matter of the depth chart, sometimes it’s a scheme mismatch, and sometimes it’s coaching. But this is where the personnel department has to trust their evaluations.
I gave Harris a 6.7 grade and projected him to start as a nickel corner with the ability to develop into a number two cover corner in year two or three. Having not played many snaps over the last three seasons with the Texans, his 37 tackles and 7 passes defended are typical for his amount of playing time. Though he lacks the size the Lions are looking for, he could contribute immediately as a depth player, is young, and has upside.
Why the trade makes sense:
The Lions are deep at running back and Houston is not. Arian Foster played only eight games over the last season, and trusted backup, Ben Tate is gone to Cleveland. That leaves Dennis Johnson and Jonathan Grimes, both relatively inexperienced. If I’m Houston, I’m not comfortable with that lineup. The addition of Leshoure brings a fresh, big, versatile back who can take touches off from Foster to keep him on the field.
There are far too many question marks in the Lions secondary not to make an effort to infuse some talent. Of course Harris is no guarantee, but is the asking price for Leshoure ever going to be any higher? Sure his stock may go up if he gets more touches this season, but it’s unlikely he’ll increase it that much. In addition, both players are entering the final year of their contract and their cap hit number is very similar, so it works financially.