As has been extensively reported (here's Tom Kowalski's mlive.com piece on it), the Lions cut five former starters yesterday, as well as an OT nobody was ever aware was on the roster, Jon Dunn. The other five? Leigh Bodden, Dan Campbell, Mike Furrey, Edwin Mulitalo, and Dwight Smith all got the axe, freeing up quite a bit of cap room (around $11 million), and depleting the Lions' roster of anyone who would ever start for another team at cornerback, tight end, and offensive guard.
All of these guys were set to earn more than they were worth, and none--with the possible exception of Bodden--will be hard to replace. Bodden's travails have been well documented. Yet Campbell, Furrey, Mulitalo, and Smith are all very high character, very high effort guys. When Campbell was signed, I had Cowboys fans come out of the woodwork to congratulate me and all Lions fans on getting such a great player and great person. Unfortunately, injury kept him from ever showing us how good he really could be. Furrey was a fan favorite rags-to-riches story--from being cut off the Rams as backup safety, to leading the NFC in receptions in 2006. Furrey wasn't the same without Martz calling the shots--and without lining up against third corners and linebackers instead of #2 CBs. Big Ed Mulitalo was big, and a tough guy with a suitable name ("Ed"). We didn't learn much about him during his time here, but he was by far our most dependable, highest-performing guard, and the only interior lineman who could push the pile when asked. Smith wasn't nearly the ballhawk he's been everywhere else in his career, but he was a great guiding hand for our young safeties.
What I'm saying here is that the Lions are not just sweeping yesterday's trash to the door, but good players who work hard and deserve better than to be rubber stamped "BAD EGG" and dumped down the furnace. Moreover, this team that was desperate for decent starting talent just lost quite a bit of it. The situation at corner is officially dire--we're talking Red Alert, Defcon 1, all hands on deck bad, here, folks. Even if you argue that TE and OG are positions where you can get by with scrubs, we've been doing that for years and years and years now--David Sloan and Jeff Hartings were our last two talented starters at those positions. #2 WR is now a concern as well--though given the glorious talent of Megatron and the desperate needs everywhere else on the field, I don't expect it to get major attention.
To bottom line it, these cuts (and the others that are coming) were probably necessary to set up the cap for future years, and to fully close the chapter on what little Rod--and Millen--had built. Still, as my next round of position breakdowns is about to show, the talent level of this roster is bordering on nonexistent. Mayhew, Lewand, Schwartz, & Company better have a real clear roadmap going forward--and enormous stones.