The Detroit Lions are heading in an exciting new direction following the installation of a new regime in the Motor City. And after three-straight losing seasons under former head coach Matt Patricia and general manager Bob Quinn, the only direction to go is up, right?
Well, not so fast. The rebuild in Detroit is in full swing. And the biggest evidence of that fact is the trade that has now sent longtime quarterback Matthew Stafford to the Los Angeles Rams. For many, Stafford was the only player keeping the sinking Lions afloat. And now, he’s on the west coast.
In exchange for Stafford, the Lions received quarterback Jared Goff, whom new general manager Brad Holmes and head coach Dan Campbell seems absolutely giddy about. The former number one overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft and two-time Pro Bowler will have his first chance to prove he’s more than a product of Sean McVay’s system.
While Goff was officially traded to Detroit this past week, the free agency period also kicked off. And while the Lions spent some of that time moving on from players connected to the previous regime, they also made some acquisitions of note. But what do these new additions tell us about the plans the Detroit brass have for the immediate future in Motown?
Before we attempt to answer that question, let’s take a look at the newest players added to the Lions’ roster this past week.
Jared Goff, QB
Tim Boyle, QB
Jamaal Williams, RB
Tyrell Williams, WR
Breshad Perriman, WR
Josh Hil, TE
Michael Brockers, DT
Charles Harris, DE
Randy Bullock, K
Obviously, the biggest addition is Goff. But his presence, along with the signing of the former Green Bay Packers backup quarterback, Tim Boyle, doesn’t rule out the possibility that Detroit could draft a quarterback with their first-round selection come April.
Jamaal Williams gives Detroit an experienced running back to pair with D’Andre Swift, who will be entering his second NFL season. Tyrell Williams and Breshad Perriman help to fill out a misfit wide receiver corps whose lack of overall talent still needs to be addressed.
Josh Hill essentially replaces Jesse James as the team’s second tight end to back up and play alongside 2020 Pro Bowler, T.J. Hockenson. The trade for Michael Brockers gives Detroit an upgrade over Danny Shelton at defensive tackle, while Charles Harris adds another pass rusher to the rotation behind the Okwara brothers and Trey Flowers.
Finally, the Lions swapped kickers. They lose a long-distance specialist in Matt Prater and bring in Randy Bullock, who is more accurate from 49 yards and under.
The Detroit Lions filled a lot of roster holes in the first week of free agency. Some of those voids were created due to veterans leaving to hit the open market. Others were holes made by the new regime themselves.
In the end, the Lions have done little to actually upgrade their roster so far. And there’s an argument to be made this team is actually in far worse shape than they were last season when they posted a disappointing 5-11 record.
So what do these newest additions might tell us about the current regime in Motown? It could be that the Detroit Lions don’t really plan on being very competitive in 2021. Instead, they appear to be playing the long game. And devoted fans should brace for that possibility.