Coming out of a second offseason on the job, Brad Holmes seems primed to become one of the NFL’s best general managers rather quickly.
Almost immediately upon becoming Detroit Lions general manager in 2021, Brad Holmes faced a request from quarterback Matthew Stafford to move on. Trading Stafford would enter the Lions into a rebuild, which truly was needed amid the ashes left behind by Matt Patricia.
Holmes’ first two offseasons have brought limited runs through free agency, with depth prioritized over big moves. This offseason, a run of re-signings goes down as a mixed bag of being deemed smart or not.
Earlier this offseason, Nate Tice and Robert Mays of The Athletic regarded Holmes as a top-10 general manager they’d want to build a roster from square one. That’s different than naming him a top-10 general manager overall in the league right now, but Holmes also lacks the resume to be regarded that way.
Brad Holmes in line to be regarded as one of the NFL’s best GMs quickly
Patrick Daugherty of NBC Sports EDGE recently ranked the NFL’s best general managers, 27 in all–removing the five first-year guys in the league.
Holmes comes in at No. 20, but the broader sentiment from Daugherty points to the chance of a fast rise in the future.
Brad Holmes didn’t belabor the point. His quarterback wanted out so he traded him after 16 days on the job, landing a haul that included a pair of first-rounders. Then he didn’t force the issue. Matthew Stafford’s heir apparent didn’t seem to be there at No. 7 so Holmes drafted elite tackle prospect Penei Sewell instead. It was the kind of offseason that can be painful for fans but critical to future success. General managers who take shortcuts tend to end up on television. Holmes wants to stay in the front office. As such, he remained methodical this spring, taking Aidan Hutchinson at No. 2 instead of forcing a quarterback solution in one of the weakest classes in recent memory. It might have served Holmes’ interests to trade down and accumulate more picks, but he already had a tranche from the Stafford deal. That’s how he added a defensive building block in Hutchinson before trading up with the Vikings to take a skill player moon shot at No. 12 in Jameson Williams. Holmes did so for the modest price of picks No. 32, 34 and 66 while still receiving 46 in addition to 12. Holmes surely wishes he had a signal caller by now. He has done the next best thing in staying within himself and finding a building block tackle, pass rusher and offensive weapon.
Mostly with patience, but with aggressiveness when he felt it has been warranted, Holmes has struck most of the right notes as the Lions’ general manager.
Not upgrading/changing the quarterback situation behind Jared Goff or doing more to bolster the linebacking corps this offseason are black marks on Holmes for many. But those things could simply become top priorities next offseason, when the draft class of signal callers looks better and the Lions’ cap situation is another step better.
The on-field results for the Lions will ultimately be the proof his plan is working or not. But Holmes is on track to climb rankings like these, and be regarded as one of the NFL’s best general managers fairly quickly.
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