Coming off the NFL's first 0-16 season, the Lions have tried just about everything to revamp the roster - trades, signings and several waiver clams, not to mention the draft - and they made another move the next day.
The Lions agreed to trade safety Gerald Alexander to Jacksonville for wide receiver Dennis Northcutt. They officially announced the trade July 2 after both players passed physicals.
The deal helped the Lions fill a need at wide receiver and in the return game, while alleviating a logjam at safety.
The Lions came into the offseason needing depth at receiver beyond Calvin Johnson. They signed free agents Bryant Johnson and Ronald Curry, and they drafted Derrick Williams.
They also came into the offseason with a different special-teams philosophy. Former coach Rod Marinelli was conservative in the return game, wanting to limit penalties. Coach Jim Schwartz is aggressive.
Northcutt, 31, is a 5-11, 172-pounder is expected to play in the slot and return punts. But he said he would learn every receiver position in case he is needed.
He caught 44 passes each of the past two seasons for the Jaguars, averaging 573 yards and three touchdowns, after seven seasons with Cleveland. He has returned punts throughout his career.
"I think that's one of the biggest reasons they brought me in was to get me in the slot," Northcutt said. "Obviously that's my biggest strength. That's been my biggest strength though my nine years of playing in the NFL is working the slot. That's where I've made my money basically.
"But I have been able to play outside. Whatever they ask me to do, that's what I'm going to do. Anything to help the team win, that's what I'm all about."
Alexander, 24, was one of three recent second-round picks at safety. The Lions drafted him in 2007, between Daniel Bullocks (‘06) and Louis Delmas (‘09).
After starting 16 games as a rookie, Alexander suffered a fractured vertebra five games into his sophomore season. He had surgery and went on injured reserve, but he returned for the offseason program. He told Jaguars.com he was surprised by the trade.
The Lions still should have good competition at safety. In addition to Bullocks and Delmas, they also have veterans Marquand Manuel, Kalvin Pearson and Stuart Schweigert, plus Tra Battle and LaMarcus Hicks.
"Very competitive," Manuel said. "You've got to come in daily and make sure you're on top of your stuff," Manuel said. "It's going to come down to the wire."
Schweigert said the guys on the bubble need to make the most of every opportunity.
"Reps are going to be limited, which means the plays you make are going to be magnified, the plays you mess up or going to be magnified," Schweigert said.