After back-to-back injury-plagued seasons, is it time the Detroit Lions simply moved on from center Travis Swanson?
When the Detroit Lions drafted center Travis Swanson in the third round of the 2014 NFL Draft, it was with the hope that the former Arkansas standout might become a reliable anchor for their offensive line one day. But after two concerning head injuries in back-to-back seasons, should the Lions simply wash their hands of Swanson this offseason?
Swanson is currently a free agent after spending his first four seasons as a professional in the Motor City. The 26-year old has started 42 games for Detroit in that span, but has only been able to play a full season once, his rookie year in 2014.
The truth is, Swanson has always been a bit of a shaky play. After a disappointing sophomore campaign in Detroit, the young center showed flashes of improvement in his third year prior to suffering a head injury that robbed him of the final four games of 2016.
Last season, with a brand new set of starting offensive lineman around him, Swanson regressed. Which was pretty bad luck in a contract year. And once again, Swanson’s season was ended early due to a concussion. That, and an ankle injury, limited the fourth-year center to just 11 games in 2017.
Now the question is whether Swanson has shown enough to justify re-signing him or not this offseason. According to one Lions’ reporter, the writing is on the wall.
"“For the second straight year, Swanson’s season was ended by a concussion. That’s a massive concern that goes beyond football, but if he opts to continue playing, the performance decline in 2017 was also problematic,” wrote Justin Rogers for The Detroit News. “The Lions have a center in waiting on the roster in Graham Glasgow and can find a cheaper, more reliable guard option in the draft.”"
The emergence of Graham Glasgow certainly makes Swanson expendable. But moving Glasgow to center permanently would force the Lions to find themselves a starter at left guard. If you believe that Joe Dahl is that player, then moving on from Swanson makes sense.
If the former third rounder can be kept on the roster another season on a relatively cheap contract, why not? Depth has been an issue for this offensive line after dealing with so many injuries last season. Why not try to keep Travis Swanson on for another season and have yourself an experienced fall back in case the injury bug returns in 2018?