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Signing a veteran to fill a team weakness isn’t a ground breaking roster decision. Teams do it every season and the Detroit Lions are no different. It is never as cut and dry as “Team needs player, team signs veteran, problem solved.” Teams make plans, they draft and sign UDFA to develop into a role, they put players on the field each year in the hopes that they will fill those roles without the need to sign veteran talent. So what happens if they devote resources to fill a hole, but then a veteran steps up to fill it? Fans generally like it when a name comes in and wins a role, but it can do long-term damage to the team if they make the Detroit Lions roster. Here are some examples of situations in 2014 where good things (For the vets) can mean bad things for the Detroit Lions.
Lance Moore Wins #3 Receiver Job
It rightly wasn’t as big of fanfare as Golden Tate signing in 2014, but no free agent has received as much rejoicing from fans and media types than former New Orleans Saints wide receiver Lance Moore. Moore has been having a good camp for the Detroit Lions and it’s looking more and more likely like he might win the third receiver spot or at least push for playing time as a slot receiver. Fans point to his 2013 season where he hauled in 37 catches or his 2012 1,000 yard season as proof that Moore can be a valuable third receiving option as well as his experience as a returner. Sounds good so far, so why would it be a bad thing if he wins the job?
Looking Closer: That 37 catch season in 2013? Lance Moore was the #2 receiver in New Orleans offense that year, not the third receiver. His 1,000 yard season in 2012? Also as the #2, in an offense that put up 5,100 yards through the air. Moore isn’t going to see the 54 targets he saw in 2013 or the 104 targets he had in 2012 in Detroit. How about his returner experience, sure that brings value? Lance Moore last returned punts, part-time, in 2010 where he only caught 11. Prior to that it was 2007 when he last worked as a punt returner and that also coincides with the last time he was used, again part-time, as a kick returner. The value isn’t there.
Who it Hurts: The Detroit Lions have expended early and late round resources to their receiving corps in recent years. Most notably they spent a 2nd round pick on Ryan Broyles expecting him to fill the very role Lance Moore would be in. TJ Jones was also selected with a similar role in mind only last season and due to injuries has yet to see the field. Corey Fuller, the team’s 2013 6th round pick, took huge steps forward in 2014 as the #4 receiver and the 32-year-old Moore is only going to take snaps away from his development.
Next: A Big Camp Battle with Few Winners