Lions’ Holmes talks QB situation, lack of clarity at No. 6 and more at league meetings

Detroit News

Phoenix, Ariz. — In the past, Detroit Lions general manager Brad Holmes has talked about the importance of fully supporting quarterback Jared Goff, putting the player in the best possible position to succeed. Holmes did a far better job of that in his second year at the helm, providing Goff with an upgraded arsenal that translated into a highly successful campaign for the QB.

This offseason, the Lions have made it clear, both Holmes and coach Dan Campbell, that Goff is their guy. Campbell emphatically stated it again during an interview with the NFL Network on Monday.

“Listen, feel really good about it. Goff? Love Goff. Goff’s our guy, man,” Campbell said. “I think he’s proven over the last two years that, man, he’s made for us. He’s had to endure a lot, just like all of us have. I thought he played his best football last year, and I think he’s gonna come out and play some of the best this year. Feel good about it.

“So I love our quarterback position right now.”

But loving the position doesn’t mean the Lions shouldn’t perpetually be exploring the possibility of an upgrade, whether that’s a long-term replacement for Goff or a short-term boost to the backup spot. And with two picks in the first round of the draft, including the No. 6 selection, Holmes is obligated to explore all possibilities.

But does drafting a quarterback in the first round run contrast to fully supporting Goff as the starter? Holmes said the key in that scenario is ensuring he’s being transparent with his current quarterback throughout the process.

“I think the whole thing about that is transparency and communication,” Holmes said. “…I think, yeah, we are in a unique position with all the picks that we have to add maybe a pretty talented guy if we go that direction. But again, it doesn’t have to be the first round. It doesn’t have to be the second round. It can be at any point. I just feel like we’re in a good place right now, but we just kind of keep the communication open just so, as you’re saying, if we were to go that direction and add one, he’s aware of exactly what we’re doing.”

More:Targets and surprises: Lions GM Holmes explains how four free-agency additions came about

Here are some other notes to come out of Holmes’ half-hour session with local media at this week’s league meetings.

▶ Speaking of upgrading the quarterback position, when news broke Monday morning that former MVP Lamar Jackson had requested a trade out of Baltimore, some national analysts have mentioned Detroit as a landing spot.

Obviously, that’s a complicated conversation, with staggering financial implications, beyond the human element. But, again, it’s a scenario Holmes acknowledged has to be discussed if he’s performing his job to the best of his ability.

“I don’t think we’re ever going to be at a point where we are not going to look at an opportunity to improve our football team,” Holmes said. “At the end of the day, I’m not going to comment on another player’s situation or any of that, but if there’s an opportunity to improve our football team, we always look at it, at all times.”

▶ Unlike previous years at this stage of the offseason, Holmes admitted he doesn’t have the same level of clarity at the top of the draft as the Lions continue to weigh their potential options at No. 6.

“In 2021, there was that cluster that I felt pretty confident about at this point,” Holmes said. “And even going back to last year, I told you guys, we were at 2, if we had to draft that day, that we were pretty confident. I can’t say that’s the case right now, just being honest. There’s still more work to do. We’ve already done a lot of work, but like I talked about the process, we just kind of surrender the results to that, and we’re still going through the process. Still more work to do. We’ll make sure we’ll get to the point where we’ll make the best decision to add the best football player for us.”

▶ Back to the quarterback spot, Holmes said he really likes backup Nate Sudfeld, who the team re-signed last week. But before making the decision to bring him back, the team explored adding two unnamed veterans who had more NFL game experience.

▶ The Lions lost DJ Chark in free agency after the wide receiver opted to sign with the Carolina Panthers. A year ago, the Lions had specifically targeted his skill set as a fit for the offense, but while Holmes acknowledged the team remains in the market for receiving help, it doesn’t necessarily need to be a big-framed X wideout similar to Chark.

“Whether it’s Chark’s skill set or a different flavor, if it’s just the right football player we’ll definitely continue to monitor that position,” Holmes said.

One receiver Holmes said he hasn’t considered at this stage is Odell Beckham Jr., although the GM didn’t rule out exploring the possibility in the future.

“I saw something that came out that he wanted to $20 (million) or something like that and I said, ‘Oh, we can’t afford that,'” Holmes said. “But no, just from a position standpoint, obviously, we don’t turn our nose any player that can improve our football team. We look at everything.”

▶ Although it seems highly improbable after the additions Detroit made to the secondary in free agency, Holmes wasn’t ready to commit to a decision on cornerback Jeff Okudah’s fifth-year option, which would pay him a guaranteed salary north of $12 million in 2024.

▶ Holmes said the team recently got positive news on offensive lineman Halapoulivaati Vaitai’s back, which required surgery and cost him the entire 2022 season. He recently restructured his contract, taking a significant pay cut, and is expected to compete with Graham Glasgow for the starting right guard job next season.

“Vaitai, man, he’s a good player,” Holmes said. “He’s a starting-level guard who fits what we’re about along the offensive line. But obviously there are question marks, or were question marks about his health and all of that.

“And Glasgow is a guy that’s got positional versatility, as well. Obviously, we all know about his ability at guard, but the stuff that he did at center on tape last year was really exciting. It’s good to have that competition and it should be good.”

Twitter: @Justin_Rogers

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