PFT is reporting that the Lions have signed former Bucs CB Philip Buchanon to a two-year, $8.5 million-dollar deal. Drafted 17th overall in the 2002 draft by the Oakland Raiders, Buchanon was to be the bookend to Charles Woodson, one-half of the next Great Pair of Raider Corners. Meanwhile, he was expected to contribute in special teams, as he was a dangerous returner at Miami. He saw a little playing time as a rookie, getting into six games, starting two, and picking off two passes--returning one for an 81-yard TD. He saw some time at punt returner, too--in those same six games he returned 15 punts @ 11.9 yards per, including an 83-yard score. In 2003 he broke into the starting lineup on defense, starting ten games, picking off six passes, and returning two of those for TDs. He also became the primary punt returner, returning 36 punts @ 13.9 yards per, and breaking two for touchdowns. Buchanon looked like he was ready to take his place as the one of the most explosive playmakers in the game. However, frequent injuries to Woodson meant that Buchanon had to play the primary CB position more often, and therefore saw fewer passes thrown his way. Moreover, he was getting fed up with life in Oakland, beyond frustrated at the way the franchise was falling apart. He demanded a trade, and recieved his wish. He was shipped to Houston for second- and third-round picsk, where with much fanfare he became part of the Texans' ongoing bid to build something from nothing. Unfortunately, he pretty much went from something to nothing. Nicked by a variety of injuries and put in the coaches' doghouse, Buchanon suffered through one whole season, plus four weeks into a second before the Texans cut him loose. Tampa Bay immediately picked him up, and Buchanon's play picked up too, as he returned home to Florida. Buchanon got two picks in the ten games he played for the Bucs in 2006, and over the past two years he's gotten some of that swagger back. 32 starts, 16 passes defensed, and five INTs in that time pretty much equal the statistical output of the Lions' entire secondary in the same period. Buchanon's lost a step or two, and hasn't been a legit return threat for years--but then, he's put two healthy seasons together for the first time in years, too.
This means the Lions now have two real starting cornerbacks before the draft even begins. What's more, note how the pieces fit together. Mayhew didn't just acquire "two starting cornerbacks", he got one guy with good size and strength, who can come up and hit, and maybe even play safety in a nickel package--plus, a guy with good speed and natural coverage skills. Henry and Buchanon should make a solid--and complementary--1-2 punch at corner. These guys may not be All-Pros, and we may yet draft a corner high to groom them to be replaced down the road, but for now I'll call the two most critical holes filled. Another tip o' the hat to Mister Mayhew.