MIKE O'HARA

O'Hara: With Martin Mayhew's track record, don't bet against a trade

Posted Oct 31, 2012

With the NFL trade deadline of 4 p.m. Thursday approaching, General Manager Martin Mayhew and his aides in the personnel department might have been working the phones Wednesday looking for help in the secondary, or at any other position.

While the Lions were practicing Wednesday, Louis Delmas and Amari Spievey were elsewhere -- perhaps in the training room or locker room, or any place that injured players go to recover to get back on the playing field.

Injuries started hitting the Lions' secondary in the exhibition season, and there has been no letup. Delmas is the leader of the secondary and a force at free safety, but he has played only three games because of an injured left knee.

He underwent surgery in training camp and returned to start in a win over the Eagles in Game 5. He played in the Monday Night TV loss at Chicago and in last week's win over Seattle but left in the second half with another injury to the same knee.

Spievey has had an up-and-down season but reclaimed his starting job at safety opposite Delmas. Spievey sustained a concussion against Chicago and did not play against Seattle. As the Lions have learned painfully – no pun intended – there is no firm timeline on when a player will recover from a concussion.

With the NFL trade deadline of 4 p.m. Thursday approaching, General Manager Martin Mayhew and his aides in the personnel department might have been working the phones Wednesday looking for help in the secondary, or at any other position.

Unlike the other major sports, the NFL trade deadline is less an event and more like a made-for-greeting card sales holiday – like National Root Vegetables Week.

I'd include Sweetest Day, but I'm already in trouble over that one. Hey, three of the chicken wings I didn't eat weren't leftovers. They were a gift. (Tender me.)

Mayhew has been more active than most general managers at the trade deadline, which is why it's reasonable to expect that he's been putting lines out in an effort to fill gaps in the secondary caused by injuries.

Mayhew has made three deals at the draft deadline since becoming GM in 2008. The biggest came in 2008, less than a month after Matt Millen was fired and Mayhew was promoted to GM.

The biggest chunk of the deal was sending wide receiver Roy Williams to the Cowboys for a first-round pick in 2009 that was used to draft tight end Brandon Pettigrew.

Mayhew's track record of being willing to deal at any time with any team elevates trade speculation in Detroit from the ranks of idle gossip to something at least approaching legitimate speculation.

"We've always had the philosophy that our roster is a work in progress, and there's no finish line when it comes to the 53-man roster," head coach Jim Schwartz said Wednesday.

"We've had some success doing it, bringing guys up, developing some players, making some trades for other players, during the season, during the offseason. We embrace it."

Mayhew made one deal in advance of the deadline. On Tuesday, the Lions sent an undisclosed draft pick to the Jaguars for wide receiver Mike Thomas, whose stock slipped in Jacksonville but could provide depth in Detroit as a speed receiver in the slot or out of the backfield.

But looking at the secondary as a primary concern going forward, one NFL source who tracks player movement said Wednesday that there are no rumbles of any safeties being aggressively shopped but speculated that some young safeties who've been demoted from starting status could be available.

Among those who fit the profile are Sherrod Martin of the Panthers and Cody Grimm of the Bucs.

A source close to the Bucs said Wednesday that Grimm is "certainly available." A seventh-round pick out of Virginia Tech in 2010, Grimm started 12 games at safety in his first two seasons but has not started this year. Ronde Barber was moved from cornerback to safety and the Bucs drafted Mark Barron.

Martin was a second-round pick out of Troy in 2009. He was switched from cornerback to safety in 2010 and started 31 games the last two seasons but none this year.

Whether Martin or Grimm – or any other player – ends up in Detroit before the trade deadline is anyone's guess, but with Mayhew's record, don't bet against it.