The Detroit Lions could surely use some help at running back after losing starter Kerryon Johnson. Could veteran Mike Davis be the answer?
21st. That’s what the Detroit Lions currently rank in rushing offense in the NFL, gaining an average of 96.0 per contest on the ground. Of course, the Lions had the services of second-year starting running back Kerryon Johnson for their first six games of this season.
Johnson suffered a knee injury, his second in as many years, in the Week Seven loss to the Minnesota Vikings. Since his departure to Injured Reserve, the Lions have trotted out a running back-by-committee approach.
In Week Eight, the combination of running backs Tra Carson, Ty Johnson, Paul Perkins, and J.D. McKissic rushed for a total of 62 yards against the New York Giants. Carson was then placed on Injured Reserve himself due to a hamstring injury and eventually released.
In Week Nine, the trio of Ty Johnson, Perkins, and McKissic was able to rush for 77 yards but only carried the ball a combined 15 times as quarterback Matthew Stafford was forced to make 41 pass attempts in a loss to the Oakland Raiders.
Despite reported workouts with free-agent running backs like Jeremy Hill and Jay Ajayi, the Lions seem content to roll with the players on their current depth chart for the rest of the season. But on Saturday, an opportunity presented itself that could aid Detroit’s rushing woes.
According to NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport, the Chicago Bears are waiving veteran running back Mike Davis. The 26-year old signed a two-year, $6 million deal with the Bears as a free agent just this past offseason. Davis was the starting running back for Chicago in Week One, recording five carries for 19 yards along with six receptions for 17 yards.
But over the past six games, Davis has only received a total of four carries with rookie running back David Montgomery, Tarik Cohen, and even wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson getting more rushing attempts.
Because the NFL trading deadline has passed, even vested veterans are now subject to the waiver wire. Because the Lions picked eighth overall in the 2019 NFL Draft, they should have a great shot of landing Davis via a waiver claim if they decide to submit one. Although, even if they did, the former Bear couldn’t help Detroit against Chicago on Sunday as any claim wouldn’t go through until Monday.
According to Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press, the Lions were interested in Davis as a restricted free agent two years ago. A fourth-round pick in 2015, Davis spent his first two seasons with the San Francisco 49ers.
But Davis didn’t find his groove until he was claimed off waivers by the Seattle Seahawks in 2017. Darrell Bevell was his offensive coordinator in Seattle that year, and now holds the same role in Detroit. After a stint on the practice squad, Davis started six games for the Seahawks and Bevell, rushing for 240 yards while averaging 3.5 yards per carry.
Davis had a breakout season in 2018 despite only starting in two games. He rushed for a career-high 514 yards and four scores averaging 4.6 yards per attempt. Davis also had 34 catches for 214 yards and one receiving touchdown.
The Bears waiving Davis appears to be more about the emergence of their rookie running back, Mike’s price tag, and the potential for draft compensation rather than an indictment on the veteran runner’s play.
Although the remaining portion of his existing two-year, $6 million contract could be a reason the Detroit Lions pass on claiming Mike Davis, perhaps hoping to sign him to a more reasonable deal if he makes it through waivers, there’s no question the Motor City could use the injection of talent in the backfield.