Former Lions guard Laken Tomlinson set up for surprising free agent market

SideLion Report

Laken Tomlinson, a former Lions first-round pick, seems set to cash in rather nicely in free agency.

In the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft, with the 28th overall pick, the Detroit Lions selected Duke guard Laken Tomlinson. Not a bad idea to try to fortify the line in front of Matthew Stafford, and looking at the players taken over the next 10-15 picks they didn’t miss on much of anyone in hindsight.

Tomlinson started 24 games over his first two NFL seasons with the Lions. In 2017, he was traded to the San Francisco 49ers for a 2019 fifth-round pick. After playing out his rookie contract, he signed a three-year, $16.5 million extension with San Francisco. That deal is now expired, and Tomlinson is an unrestricted free agent.

Tomlinson earned his first career Pro Bowl selection in 2021, and while he’s not a star or a name many people are keenly aware of his career is on a nice track. Lions fans are far too used to the idea of someone leaving and succeeding elsewhere, and it does feel like Tomlinson was given up on in Detroit rather quickly.

Laken Tomlinson lined up to cash in as a free agent

A few days ago, ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler (subscription required) reported Tomlinson is emerging as a top guard in this year’s free agent market, with multiple suitors lined up for a possible bidding war. Specifically, the Cincinnati Bengals, Minnesota Vikings, Pittsburgh Steelers, Carolina Panthers, Seattle Seahawks and New York Jets were mentioned as looking for interior line help and perhaps naturally interested in Tomlinson.

Ari Meirov of Pro Football Focus has a list of free agents who could get more money than expected. Tomlinson made the list.

G LAKEN TOMLINSON

The former Detroit Lions first-round pick has flourished in San Francisco. He might not be much of a household name, but Tomlinson has not missed a game over the past four seasons and has played every single offensive snap for Kyle Shanahan across the past three years. His 75.9 overall grade in 2021 ranked 11th among 90 qualifying guards. Similar to James Daniels, the expectation is he’ll get over $10 million a year on the open market.

Tomlinson has helped pave the way for one of the league’s more productive rushing attacks in San Francisco the last few years. The idea he’ll get more than $10 million a year on the open market is eye-opening, but if the demand for his services is what it could be there’s a solid chance he gets there.

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