Despite some patterns, we still haven’t seen everything that Lions’ GM Brad Holmes has up his sleeve


There’s been a really interesting discourse about Detroit Lions GM Brad Holmes on social media since the day that the team hired him. There’s some playing on both sides of the fence.

On one side there’s this idea that we know exactly what Holmes is going to do at all times. He’s a fiscally conservative guy that’s not going to go out and sign the big time players or make big trades. 

On the other side of things, Holmes is this totally unpredictable wild card that you never know what to expect from. He’ll make giant trades in the draft and go out and get players like Carlton Davis or DJ Reader. 

It’s pretty clear at this point that we don’t really know what Holmes has up his sleeve most of the time. That’s why it’s always interesting to see responses to potential trade articles or free agent signing articles that say in a definitive matter that “Brad Holmes would never do that.” 

If we’ve learned anything in the past three years, it’s that we don’t know what he’s going to do. With that said, he does still seem to be working along the same guideline that he’s been on since getting here. That’s getting the players they like and ones they feel fit the culture best.

It’s something that Holmes learned in Los Angeles while working under Les Snead. The Rams spent years building through the draft and accruing cap space and then when they felt comfortable, they started spending that cap space and trading away draft assets for big time players. There’s a reason they continue to be as good as they are and that’s becasue sustained success isn’t only achieved through the draft. 

We ask Holmes at the combine if he took any free agency cues from watching Snead and he seemed to point to the idea that the Lions could very well be headed down a similar path before you know it. 

“Yeah, that’s a really good question. Because me and our assistant general manager Ray Agnew, we were both with Les and he was actually a more integral point person in the free agent process because of his role as a director of pro scouting at the time. But we talked about how, when Les first got there in 2012, you know, obviously, he drafted for a lot of years, and you know, you’re attacking every single position in free agency. You’re trying to build the roster. When Ray and I got here in 2021, we had to take the same approach. But, as you kind of build the roster, and get more stronger in certain areas, your process alters a little bit because you can be a little bit more, we’ve always been strategic and selective, but you can even be more selective than you have in the past. So, we’re not quite there yet, where Les and the Rams are, you know, where he really started to be very, very, very selective there. But me and Ray were just talking about that and we are getting there, we’re getting closer.” 

The time appears to be coming for the Lions to start taking some major swings and they have all the cap space in the world to do it right now. That’s why it’s not out of the question that the Lions would be involved in some of the trade scenarios that national outlets are putting them in. 

Maybe it doesn’t happen in 2024, but it appears to be coming and that’s a good thing. Being able to change and adapt is a big part of the job. You can’t stay in one place forever. 

Now, that doesn’t mean the Lions are going to go out and start trading away their first round picks tomorrow. They may never do that since Holmes seems to really enjoy the draft process, but we did learn this year that he’s not opposed to sending future assets away and that it really didn’t seem like that big of a deal to him if the team was getting better in the process. 

Holmes traded a 2025 third round pick to move up for Giovanni Manu. That wasn’t the only third-rounder the Lions gave up this year. They also moved one of their third round picks to trade for Carlton Davis and their other to move up for Terrion Arnold. Holmes isn’t as glued to draft assets as you think he is. Especially the high ones.

We’ll see where things go, but it’s safe to say we don’t know Brad Holmes as well as we think we do. 

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