Grading the Carlton Davis trade for the Detroit Lions

What grade to the Lions deserve for the Carlton Davis trade?

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It wasn't the splashy move to add a veteran cornerback that some thought possible, but the Detroit Lions closed their business on Day 1 of free agency by trading for Tampa Bay Buccaneers cornerback Carlton Davis.

According to multiple reports, the Lions will send a 2024 third-round pick (No. 92 overall) to the Buccaneers. They will also receive sixth-round picks in 2024 and 2025. Of note is they will be parting with their own oringinal third-round pick in April's draft, while keeping the third-rounder (No. 73 overall) they got in the T.J. Hockenson trade.

Davis spent his first six NFL seasons with the Buccaneers, making 75 starts over that span. He finished second in the NFL in pass breakups twice (2019 and 2020), but injuries have been an ongoing thing during his career. In 2023, he missed a total of five games due to toe and groin issues as well a concussion. He was also on the injury report with a hip issue last season

Davis is entering the final year of a three-year deal, and he is set to carry a $14 million base salary and a $14.3 million cap hit this year. A contract extension feels like an option, to drop the cap hit for this year.

Detroit Lions trade grade: Grading the Carton Davis deal

Davis is a bigger corner (6-foot-1, 206 pounds), and as such it's not surprising he excels in man coverage. The Lions mix man and zone, but no cornerback played more man coverage snaps last season than Cameron Sutton.

Davis is a strong, reliable tackler, which has been deemed important in a cornerback by general manager Brad Holmes and new defensive backs coach Deshea Townsend. Analyst Jon Ledyard (h/t to Pride of Detroit) has noticed a drop-off in his overall physicality as injuries have mounted the last couple years. But Davis does not miss many tackles, and that was an issue for the Lions' defense last season.

Giving up a third-round pick might feel a little steep for Davis, when the idea of parting with a second-round pick for L'Jarius Sneed has been out there. But it's a low-risk, high-reward move to bet on a rebound to his from from a few years ago in a different defensive scheme, with some extra draft capital added.

Ultimately, this deal is a solid win for the Lions.

Grade: A-

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