Detroit Lions get help for pass rush, trade conditional draft pick for DE Everson Griffen

Detroit Free Press

Dave Birkett
 
| Detroit Free Press

Buoyed by back-to-back wins that have them in the wildcard hunt, the Detroit Lions made a trade Tuesday to bolster their pass rush.

The Lions traded a conditional sixth-round draft pick to the Dallas Cowboys for defensive end Everson Griffen.

Griffen, won’t be eligible to play until the Lions’ Nov. 8 game against his old team, the Minnesota Vikings, because of the NFL’s COVID-19 protocols.

Traded players must pass five consecutive COVID tests before they are allowed to take part in team activities. Because of those restrictions, some around the NFL are treating this week as the NFL’s unofficial trade deadline.

The actual deadline is Nov. 3.

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“I don’t know if I can really predict anything that’s going to happen going forward,” Lions coach Matt Patricia said Monday when asked if his team was looking to add to its roster before the deadline. “I know that for us, we’re always going to try to do whatever we can to help our team get better. Sometimes those situations, in particular trades, it takes both parties and everybody involved. So I don’t know. We’ll see how all that goes, but right now it’s just focused on really turning the page to be ready for (this week’s game against the Indianapolis Colts).”

Griffen, one of the NFL’s most feared pass rushers in his prime, had 74.5 sacks in 10 seasons with the Vikings, where he made four Pro Bowls. He has 2.5 sacks in seven games with the Cowboys this year.

Last year, Patricia called the then-Vikings pass rushing tandem of Griffen and Danielle Hunter “as good as anybody in the league.”

“He’s long, he’s a little bit stouter, a little bit thicker,” Patricia said of Griffen. “Does a good job with the power off of the edge, really some of those in the passing game, some of the softer sets that he gets, he’s able to kind of push those guys back into the middle of the pocket and create a lot of stress and tension for the quarterback.”

The Lions evened their record at 3-3 with a late-game comeback against the Atlanta Falcons last week and play just one team with a record above .500 — the Colts — between now and the end of November.

The Lions have struggled to get consistent pressure on quarterbacks in their two-plus seasons under Patricia, but have done a better job in recent weeks with their rush packages.

Romeo Okwara has a team-high four sacks and has forced fumbles each of the last two weeks, but the Lions have just eight sacks in six games this season.

Griffen likely will play as a situational pass rusher, alongside or behind Okwara and starting right end Trey Flowers.

The Lions have used Danny Shelton, Nick Williams and rookie John Penisini heavily on run downs the last two weeks. 

Contact Dave Birkett at dbirkett@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @davebirkett.

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