Detroit Lions: Trade Theo Riddick or Ameer Abdullah?

DETROIT, MI - NOVEMBER 24: Theo Riddick #25 of the Detroit Lions reacts to his second quarter run against the Minnesota Vikings at Ford Field on November 24, 2016 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)
DETROIT, MI - NOVEMBER 24: Theo Riddick #25 of the Detroit Lions reacts to his second quarter run against the Minnesota Vikings at Ford Field on November 24, 2016 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images) /

What might be an unfavorable move in the eyes of most Detroit Lions fans, there is a player who has good value in the event of a trade.

Frustrating doesn’t begin to describe the feeling Detroit Lions fans get when discussing the failed running game. To make matters worse, spending many millions of dollars on a new right side of the offensive line did nothing to improve it.

Understandably, poor coaching on the offensive line and injuries derailed any chance of success happening in 2017. Under the new regime, there’s no way it can get worse.

Another area that is quick to stick out is a lack of a truly special every-down running back. Is one needed to succeed? No, but it helps in the event the offensive line is mediocre or not executing its blocks correctly.

Many fans want Ameer Abdullah out-of-town, but why? Just because he doesn’t fit best as a starter doesn’t mean he wouldn’t make for a phenomenal complementary back. Look at James White and the way the New England Patriots use him. Both players are freakishly close in size and age (Abdullah: 5-9, 203 lbs, 24 years old/ White: 5-10, 205 lbs, 25 years old) as well as incredibly similar in ability.

It seems the only running back Lions fans choose to rally around is Theo Riddick. I don’t know why that is but he isn’t much different from Abdullah. Between the two, they fit the same role as change of pace options that can catch well out of the backfield.

Ironically, both practically had the same yards per carry average but Riddick (3.4) gets the pass while Abdullah (3.3) takes the most heat? That’s wrong.

Last I remembered, it was Abdullah that was coming off serious foot surgery, which clearly effected his explosiveness. If anyone deserves a break, it’s not Riddick. Double wrist surgery doesn’t exactly matter when it comes to planting and cutting.

Everyone already knows what you’re getting in Riddick, a pass catching specialist with limited upside between the tackles. Abdullah is the more proven between-the-tackles runner and kick returner and compares closely as a receiver and pass protector, but is still scratching the surface of his potential.

In a realist world, the Lions wouldn’t get much in return if they traded Abdullah away. Riddick on the other hand makes for a better trade candidate because of his league-wide prowess.

Before you hoot and holler or raise hell, ask yourself this question. Is Riddick that irreplaceable? Would it not be worth trading him for a decent draft pick when there’s a capable replacement in-house to take over his role? Is Riddick that much different and/or better than Abdullah?

If both stayed, I wouldn’t complain one bit. The truth behind the message isn’t one player being better than the other per se. What I’m advocating is this, Riddick has more value than Abdullah as a trade candidate.

I’m not going to waste time arguing who is more talented than the other. All I care to make clear is that if anyone should be traded, it’s Riddick over Abdullah. Business-wise this makes sense too because Abdullah is cheaper and younger than Riddick (26).

Another Patriots running back that closely compares to Riddick (5-9, 201 lbs, 26 years old) is Dion Lewis (5-8, 195 lbs, 27 years old). The talent gap is much larger in this comparison as the far superior one is Lewis. If Riddick was closer to his level of play and offered more rushing and returning the ball, then maybe I wouldn’t be as open to the idea of the Lions trading him.

Detroit has bigger issues at hand than who their pass catching back will be. If the Lions can trade a player away and already have a cheaper replacement with more upside to take over while getting more draft picks or a player at a position of need in the process is a win-win situation. The only way to do business is by winning.

More of the “Patriot Way” is coming full circle to Detroit, and they can seemingly take anyone, plug them in and win ball games. With some faith and courage, I think Lions fans can grasp the concept that with the right coaching and system in place, most players are in fact replaceable.

Next: Detroit Lions season in review - Best and Worst of 2017

To get quality draft capital (third-fourth round pick), trading Riddick is a safe and practical way to do so. This is a move the Lions can afford to make. All they have to do is be bold and pull the trigger. Neither player has to go, but one move does make more sense than the other.