While the Detroit Lions have been very active in free agency, with both fantastic and questionable moves, the main goal isn’t to win this offseason.
The Detroit Lions hit free agency hard the first day of legal tampering by agreeing with three new players, they followed that up with a few trades and further acquisitions. Writers and media members have both praised some of these moves and spoke very poorly of some moves. Does that matter?
Not really. The Lions aren’t trying to “win” free agency. Grades of moves and trades are great content for fans that are hungry for NFL content – especially during this crazy time in the world with all the sports cancellations. They are fun to look at but don’t translate into wins on the field.
Players are gone.
There are quite a few players missing from the roster that were relied on heavily last season. Defensive back Darius Slay is at the top of that list. Offensive guard Graham Glasgow was solid at his position for this team. As were defensive linemen Damon Harrison and A’Shawn Robinson, right tackle Ricky Wagner, and linebacker Devon Kennard. But turnover happens every offseason and teams need to prepare accordingly.
Multiple New England Patriots players were added.
Another trend for this Detroit Lions regime continued with grabbing former Patriots players, especially on defense. Linebacker Jamie Collins, defensive lineman Danny Shelton and safety Duron Harmon all made their way to the Motor City from New England. Wide receiver Danny Amendola also re-signed for another year. The Patriot force is strong in this offseason.
What does it all mean?
Unfortunately, not much. We won’t know how these moves shake out until football resumes, whenever that is. And if you’re curious how a player’s expected impact translates the following season, here’s a nice snippet for you from Pro Football Focus:
"Since 2006, players (excluding quarterbacks) who added value to their teams in a given season (i.e., they generated positive WAR) generated a total of 99 WAR less after they changed teams in free agency."
They go on to explain that, in terms of wins per season, this is one-quarter of a game less than if the player equaled their output from the previous season. The best example of this is the Cleveland Browns. For all intents and purposes, they “won” the offseason in 2019. They were lauded as contenders for winning their division and possibly even being Super Bowl contenders.
The Browns won six games last year – six. They finished second-to-last in their division and didn’t even make the playoffs. They landed some big players including wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. It didn’t translate on the bottom line.
Fortunately for this Detroit Lions team, they were competitive in 2019. They couldn’t hold their leads throughout the fourth quarter and their record hid the good things they were capable of. If the NFL draft can add even a mild influx of talent, this team is in a better position to improve their winning percentage over last season. Luckily for the Lions, that bar is set pretty low.