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What Millen turned down for CJ

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Catch of a Lifetime?

 

With no great offers, the Lions snapped up a star

 

Posted: Tuesday May 1, 2007 9:38AM; Updated: Tuesday May 1, 2007 11:38PM

 

 

David E. Klutho/SI

 

 

 

"I've got to be the Godfather today," Lions president Matt Millen said last Saturday morning, sitting in the living room of his town house in the Detroit suburb of Dearborn. He sounded full of hope and anticipation. In an hour Millen, a man who badly needed a good day, expected to be fielding calls from three or four clubs and hoped -- in a role reversal for Don Corleone -- that someone would make him an offer he couldn't refuse in exchange for the No. 2 pick in the NFL draft.

 

It never came. At 12:20 p.m., after the Raiders opened the draft by selecting LSU quarterback JaMarcus Russell, the Lions went on the clock, prepared to use their full 15 minutes to listen to suitors.

 

With Georgia Tech wide receiver Calvin Johnson, widely considered the best receiver to come along in years, there for the taking, all eyes went to the phone console in Millen's office. "Don't do anything with the pick until you talk to me," Redskins owner Daniel Snyder had told him on Thursday. Dallas owner Jerry Jones and Millen had talked at length before the draft, with Millen explaining what he was looking for: high-round picks, plus a starting player. Millen thought he might also hear from general managers Rich McKay of the Falcons and Bruce Allen of the Buccaneers, both of whom he'd spoken to late in the week.

 

A month earlier Denver had offered two first-round picks, a second-rounder and two third-rounders, plus veteran linebacker Al Wilson, but when the Broncos wouldn't substitute another second-round pick for the injured Wilson, Millen turned them down. With that, the bar was set high.

 

Two minutes passed. Four. Eight. Not a single ring. And Millen wasn't going to make any calls. In the macho world of NFL deal-making, to do so when you're on the clock is the ultimate sign of desperation.

 

Not that desperation hasn't been in ample supply in Detroit. The Lions' 24-72 record during Millen's six seasons -- worst in the NFL over that span -- partly reflects his poor drafts. Johnson would be the fourth receiver Detroit had taken in the top 10 in the last five years. Two were abject failures -- the injury-plagued Charles Rogers (2003) and the uninterested Mike Williams ('05), who, fittingly, was dealt to Oakland later on Saturday. Quarterback-of-the-future Joey Harrington, the No. 3 pick in '02, also flopped.

 

 

1 of 3

 

 

Georgia Tech wide receiver Calvin Johnson toured the NFL offices last Friday before being selected No. 23 in the draft by Detroit.

David Bergman/SI

 

 

 

With six minutes remaining, Millen clapped his hands. Why delay the inevitable? "Get [Johnson] on the phone," he barked. An aide handed Millen the phone.

 

"Remember what I told you when you visited here, that you wouldn't get past the Number 2 pick?" Millen asked Johnson.

 

"I remember," Johnson, at the draft in New York City's Radio City Music Hall, replied.

 

"Well, you're not getting past the Number 2 pick. Congratulations. You're a Lion."

 

If Johnson's as good as advertised -- a physical 6'5", 239-pound receiver with sprinter's speed who loves to play the game -- Millen did the right thing by setting the trade bar high. But he shouldn't have been surprised that no offer materialized. A team picking in the top 10 used to be able to trade down for a package of picks and/or players, but this was the third straight year no such deal was made. Why? The disparity in payouts to rookies at the top of the draft has grown more pronounced as the NFL salary cap has risen from $85.5 million to $109 million since 2005. A mere two-slot move up by Tampa Bay, from fourth to second, would have cost the Bucs an additional $3 million per year, minimum, in player compensation, plus at least two second-round selections. The fact that no one moved up for a such a highly touted player as Johnson is a sign that the days of top-of-the draft trades may be over.

 

Which helps explain all the deals that came later. For Millen the action started in the second round. He held the 34th pick and had his eyes on Michigan State quarterback Drew Stanton, whom the Lions had graded very close to Notre Dame's Brady Quinn. The Bills, eager for Penn State linebacker Paul Posluszny, offered second- and third-round picks for the 34th. Millen made the trade and got Stanton at No. 43. He'll be groomed to be Detroit's 2008 starter.

 

 

2 of 3

A day earlier the Raiders called -- for the fourth time in April -- to inquire about Lions backup QB Josh McCown, whom they wanted to hold the fort for Russell. And the Titans had expressed interest in Williams, hoping offensive coordinator Norm Chow, who coached the receiver at USC, could rekindle his fire. Now that he had Stanton, Millen called Raiders coach Lane Kiffin, offering McCown and Williams for Oakland's fourth-round pick, 105th overall. Kiffin balked. "O.K.," Millen said, "you take McCown. I'll send Williams to Tennessee." Kiffin asked for a few minutes, then called back and said the Raiders would take both for No. 105.

 

Millen, who'd started the day with nine picks, had the currency to swing deals for two more second-rounders. He sent New Orleans and Baltimore two picks each for their Nos. 58 and 61 choices, respectively, and got the players coach Rod Marinelli wanted to improve on the league's 28th-ranked defense: lithe pass rusher Ikaika Alama-Francis of Hawaii and playmaking safety and special-teamer Gerald Alexander of Boise State. When the trading frenzy was over -- four deals in three hours -- Lions vice chairman Bill Ford Jr. turned to Millen and said, "Where was all this activity in the first round?"

 

"I've got goose bumps," Detroit offensive coordinator Mike Martz said on Saturday night, already plotting plays to take advantage of Johnson's skills. "I've never been so excited for a season to start." The orchestrator of the Greatest Show on Turf as coach of the Rams eight years ago, Martz took out a sheet of paper and drew a formation he expected to become a staple of his 2007 game plan: Roy Williams (the No. 7 pick in 2004) wide left, free-agent pickup and former Ram Shaun McDonald in the left slot, Mike Furrey (who combined with Williams for 180 catches and 2,396 yards last year) in the right slot and Johnson set wide right. "In this formation," Martz said, "you're going to get either Roy or Calvin deep, with no safety help. How do you defend that? Maybe Shaun on a shallow curl and Furrey down the field on a post taking the safeties with them." Marinelli said scatback Tatum Bell, acquired from Denver, should flourish in formations like this one, with the defense spread and running lanes open.

 

"This is the day," Martz said, "the franchise turns around."

 

Millen, too gray for 49, wasn't gloating. He's heard the fans calling for his ouster, with their Millen Man March and their chants at Ford Field. But at least he can laugh at himself. Last Christmas he gathered with his wife and four children in their living room. "Look, Dad," said daughter Marianne, pointing to the top of the Christmas tree, where an angel held a handwritten sign: fire millen.

 

Millen was brought up to stick with a job until it was finished. A visitor noted that while Ford Motor Company has spun through CEOs while losing billions, grandfatherly team owner and company scion William Clay Ford has stuck with Millen. "Yeah, I'm shocked," Millen said. "Shocked Mr. Ford didn't put his foot up my rear end at some point. Sometimes I look around and say, How did this happen? You know Schleprock on The Flintstones, the guy with the black cloud over his head all the time? That's us. But not for long. Finally, we've got the right coach. And now we've got Roy Williams and Calvin Johnson, and they can jump over that damn black cloud."

 

In Detroit, a city whose renaissance plans always seem to fall short, the proof is in the winning. Millen has always talked a good game. Now the team he's put together has to play one.

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this is from an article at cowboys.com--

 

OK, he said the Cowboys would have to select a "wow" player if they bundled their picks to move way up in the draft. Details, details. They had a chance but the price was far too steep for Calvin Johnson. Detroit wanted to switch spots in the first, then get the Cowboys' second, third and, while no one would mention a name, but process of elimination, DeMarcus Ware since we were told it was a defensive Pro Bowl player.

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A month earlier Denver had offered two first-round picks, a second-rounder and two third-rounders, plus veteran linebacker Al Wilson, but when the Broncos wouldn't substitute another second-round pick for the injured Wilson, Millen turned them down. With that, the bar was set high.

 

Another Millen blunder.

 

What a surprise. :D

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A month earlier Denver had offered two first-round picks, a second-rounder and two third-rounders, plus veteran linebacker Al Wilson, but when the Broncos wouldn't substitute another second-round pick for the injured Wilson, Millen turned them down. With that, the bar was set high.

 

 

 

If I was the Lions owner and I found this out, Million would have been fired on the spot. That's just my opinion.

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If I was the Lions owner and I found this out, Million would have been fired on the spot. That's just my opinion.

 

 

I agree, however if I was Lions owner, he'd have been fired long before this.

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A month earlier Denver had offered two first-round picks, a second-rounder and two third-rounders, plus veteran linebacker Al Wilson, but when the Broncos wouldn't substitute another second-round pick for the injured Wilson, Millen turned them down. With that, the bar was set high.

 

I call B.S. on this.

No way Detroit would turn this down and no way Denver would offer this.

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A month earlier Denver had offered two first-round picks, a second-rounder and two third-rounders, plus veteran linebacker Al Wilson, but when the Broncos wouldn't substitute another second-round pick for the injured Wilson, Millen turned them down. With that, the bar was set high.

 

I call B.S. on this.

No way Detroit would turn this down and no way Denver would offer this.

 

 

+1

 

DEN was looking to move up a few slots to pick a D player. If anyone is basing their opinions on the credibility of this tidbit of misinformation they are fools.

 

Of course, it is an SI article....

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I call B.S. on this.

No way Detroit would turn this down

 

you don't know the Lions very well

 

and no way Denver would offer this.

 

now that might be true

 

 

 

:D

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:D

 

 

Try setting it as your avy, might make your life around here easier. :D

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Of course Wilson can't play right now, or for the forseeable future. Even if Millen had jumped all over it, Wilson would have failed the physical and the trade would have been nulled.

 

Frankly, if you really do believe that CJ2 has the body of TO, the speed and circus-catch ability of Randy Moss, the work ethic of Jerry Rice, and hands like two-foot-wide versions of those gummy hands you used to get out of vending machines (as has been widely and constantly hyped) . . . you'd have to get a king's ransom for him. You'd have to be absolutely sure that you were getting AT LEAST three solid contributors in return. If CJ2 is really going to be the best wideout in the NFL in two years, and for fifteen years, and you give him up in exchange for a fistful of prospects, any one of whom could be anywhere from "maybe someday goes to the Pro Bowl a couple of times" to "isn't on the team in two years" . . . you screwed up.

 

Peace

policy

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Of course Wilson can't play right now, or for the forseeable future. Even if Millen had jumped all over it, Wilson would have failed the physical and the trade would have been nulled.

 

Frankly, if you really do believe that CJ2 has the body of TO, the speed and circus-catch ability of Randy Moss, the work ethic of Jerry Rice, and hands like two-foot-wide versions of those gummy hands you used to get out of vending machines (as has been widely and constantly hyped) . . . you'd have to get a king's ransom for him. You'd have to be absolutely sure that you were getting AT LEAST three solid contributors in return. If CJ2 is really going to be the best wideout in the NFL in two years, and for fifteen years, and you give him up in exchange for a fistful of prospects, any one of whom could be anywhere from "maybe someday goes to the Pro Bowl a couple of times" to "isn't on the team in two years" . . . you screwed up.

 

Peace

policy

 

 

Yeah, but isn't that the same thing you thought of about Rogers and Mike Williams? :D

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Yeah, no way that trade with Denver or anyone else happens until the Lions are on the clock.

 

I think the other GMs screwed up by not making an offer. I believe Millen wanted to trade down and may have accepted a lesser offer a few minutes into the clock. Of course that goes against what Policy just stated which I believe could be the case also.

 

I think ATL should have sold the farm to get Johnson maybe not as bad as Ditka did a few years ago but something like the Denver offer as stated above.

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Yeah, but isn't that the same thing you thought of about Rogers and Mike Williams? :D

 

 

Meh, I personally thought Chuck was going to be one of the best in the game, top five, perennial pro bowl, serious HoF candidate--but I'm a huge MSU homer and I even hung out with the dude a few times. I thought Mike Williams was going to be a solid pro whose ceiling was somewhere between Herman Moore and Keyshawn Johnson.

 

From what nearly every talent evaluator has said, this guy has the potential to be on the Mount Rushmore of football . . . that's a big step up from either of the two above.

 

Peace

policy

Edited by policyvote

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Try setting it as your avy, might make your life around here easier. :D

 

Taken.

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Since this article is from Peter King, I'm more inclined to believe the details.

 

I like to read Martz's take on the offense, and it sure does have potential to be scary good, but will they have the pass blocking to make it happen?

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Peace

policy

 

 

 

Peace

policy

 

 

 

:D Umm... We can see your member name above your avitar, so we know who you are when you post, therefore the official closing and signature isn't necessary. :D:tup:

 

Irish

Edited by irish

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If this offer was two months ago, then Al Davis picks CJ just to spite the Broncos.

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anything leading up to the draft is probably a lie. Besides, why would anyone pay that for a WR. Even To and Moss cant win games by themselves. And for the life of me I dont see why the Lions took CJ, instead of an offer for a slew of picks. How much better can your passing game really be with CJ. Doesnt this take the ball away from Roy more, who is probably better than CJ anyway. Furry is going to get his in the slot, so either this team will never run the ball, which will kill their D, or its WR overkill, and that is if the front 5 can give Kitna or whoever protection in the first place.

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shanahan bascially confirmed as much at a presser last week. to the point where they actually had a deal in place (the bell/bly deal with wilson and the picks thrown in is what i heard), and the next day detroit balked and the broncos started looking in other directions.

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Martz said, "you're going to get either Roy or Calvin deep, with no safety help. How do you defend that? Maybe Shaun on a shallow curl and Furrey down the field on a post taking the safeties with them."

 

Two words:

 

Hammer Kitna

 

Precisely how Martz put a target on Warner's back.

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:D Umm... We can see your member name above your avitar, so we know who you are when you post, therefore the official closing and signature isn't necessary. :D:doh:

 

Irish

 

 

It's my thing. If you search, you'll find more than one thread where I've been called out and I explain why I do what I do.

 

:tup:

 

Peace

policy

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From what nearly every talent evaluator has said, this guy has the potential to be on the Mount Rushmore of football . . . that's a big step up from either of the two above.

 

Peace

policy

 

That is the only reason I hold hope for CJ2. EVERYONE is saying how good he is, not just Lions coaches. If he flops everyone looks stupid but we would get more of the same in D-Town. I hope he is better than expected. The only problem with the is then it makes Millen look like a brilliant GM :D

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If I was the Lions owner and I found this out, Million would have been fired on the spot. That's just my opinion.

 

 

I'd think Shanahan should be fired just as quick. I don't believe this was an offer (either), but I also believe Shanahan may have the biggest ego in the NFL.

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The only problem with the is then it makes Millen look like a brilliant GM :D

 

 

I don't know about that. Drafting the only "can't miss" prospect in the draft doesn't make one brilliant. Its the safe pick.

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