Detroit Lions re-sign QB Nate Sudfeld; drafting a backup still possible

Detroit Free Press

One backup quarterback down, and one still to go?

The Detroit Lions re-signed veteran Nate Sudfeld as insurance for Jared Goff on Friday, but still could look to address a position general manager Brad Holmes admitted earlier this offseason he neglected in past years.

“I feel like last year we kind of left training camp kind of sliding into home plate trying to fill that backup quarterback role and that’s on me,” Holmes said at the NFL combine. “I’ve got to do a better job of making sure that we’re not in that position again, so that is something that we’re going to need to address, whether it’s here in free agency or upcoming in the draft. But that’s something that we’ve had a lot of conversations about, but I’ve got to do a better job of making sure we get that rectified.”

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The Lions signed Sudfeld after he was released by the San Francisco 49ers last September, after Tim Boyle and David Blough failed to impress in their bids to win the backup job in training camp.

Sudfeld played nine offensive snaps last season and did not attempt a pass, though Holmes was complimentary of his performance in his role.

“I thought Nate did a nice job when we got him, but he’s a UFA as well,” Holmes said. “So again, we got to make sure that we address everything again, whether it’s free agency and through the draft.”

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Veteran quarterbacks were a hot commodity in free agency this offseason, with Derek Carr (New Orleans Saints), Jimmy Garoppolo (Las Vegas Raiders), Baker Mayfield (Tampa Bay Buccaneers), Taylor Heinicke (Atlanta Falcons) and Jacoby Brissett (Washington Commanders) all signing with teams that should give them at least a chance to compete for a starting job.

Andy Dalton (Carolina Panthers), Jarrett Stidham (Denver Broncos), Marcus Mariota (Philadelphia Eagles) and Sam Darnold (San Francisco 49ers) got backup jobs on contracts that average at least $4.5 million per season.

Teddy Bridgewater, who played for the New Orleans Saints when Lions coach Dan Campbell was an assistant with the team, Mason Rudolph and Carson Wentz are backup options who remain free agents.

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The Lions have not taken a quarterback in Holmes’ first two drafts as GM, but could target one early — they have the sixth and 18th picks of the first round — or more likely later in the draft to apprentice under Goff.

Four quarterbacks currently project as top-10 picks — Alabama’s Bryce Young, Ohio State’s C.J. Stroud, Florida’s Anthony Richardson and Kentucky’s Will Levis — and the Carolina Panthers and Houston Texans are expected to take signal callers with the first two picks of the draft.

Tennessee’s Hendon Hooker is widely considered the fifth-best quarterback in the draft and a likely Day 2 pick. Hooker, 25, was a Heisman Trophy front-runner last season before tearing his ACL.

The Lions, who also have two second-round draft picks and five of the first 81 choices overall, have hosted at least one quarterback on a pre-draft visit: Kansas State’s Adrian Martinez earlier this month.

Martinez made 47 starts in five college seasons, the first four at Nebraska. He threw for 1,261 yards and six touchdowns with one interception last season at Kansas State, and had four 500-yard rushing seasons at Nebraska.

Sudfeld, 29, has attempted 37 passes without a start while playing for four teams in his seven-year career.

Contact Dave Birkett at Follow him on Twitter @davebirkett.

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