The Detroit Lions have some tough decisions to make in the coming weeks. Parting ways with running back Theo Riddick may be one of them.
With free agency kicking off next month, the Detroit Lions face some difficult decisions in the coming weeks. Namely, which of their own free agents are they going to attempt to re-sign. And are there any players currently on the roster whom they may want to part ways with.
That latter point brings us to running back Theo Riddick. More receiver than runner, Riddick has always possessed a unique skill set. Out of the backfield, the six-year veteran provides sure hands as a receiving threat and safety valve for quarterback Matthew Stafford. But Riddick does little when it comes to actually running the ball.
Last season, the former sixth round pick averaged 2.9 carries per game. That was his lowest rushing attempts (40) since 2014. But Riddick was a still factor in the passing game, racking up 61 catches for 384 yards. Although his 6.3 yards per catch average was the lowest in his career. The veteran running back did not post a single touchdown for the first time in his professional career as well.
Seen as purely a third-down back, Riddick is scheduled to make $3.2 million in 2019, with a salary cap hit of $4.375 million according to Sportrac.com. That’s pricey for a player many consider to be a one-trick pony coming off a down season.
When asked about the Lions’ running back situation this offseason, here’s what Justin Rogers of the Detroit News speculated about the immediate future of Riddick in Motown.
"“I also don’t think we can rule out Theo Riddick being replaced this offseason. His production in the passing game really fell off a cliff last season, largely because he wasn’t making tacklers miss. With a $4.4 million cap hit in 2019, and the opportunity to gain more than $3 million in space by replacing him, he has to be considered on the bubble.”"
Riddick’s saving grace might be new offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell. If Bevell believes the veteran back is a key piece to the resurgence of a passing offense in Motown, a deal to keep him around might be struck. Of course, that door could swing the other way as well.
One solution fans have speculated about for years is the idea of shifting Theo Riddick to wide receiver. Having the versatile 5-foot-9, 201 pound gadget player fill the slot could be a way to justify his presence on the roster beyond just third-down duty. It’s a wrinkle that might be worth exploring.