The Detroit Lions are headed into an offseason of uncertainty as an entirely new coaching staff and general manager look to correct the wrongs of previous regimes. But in doing so, are they already working from behind the eight-ball, so to speak?
Gone is the stability at quarterback that the team has benefitted from for more than a decade. Nearly the entire wide receiving corp has become free agents. There are missing pieces scattered across the roster. The Lions seemingly only have one option for filling the roster holes – the draft.
Can Detroit Lions attract the better free agents?
New Detroit Lions head coach Dan Campbell certainly made an impression when talking about biting off kneecaps during a press conference. Will his energy and enthusiasm for the team, combined with the ex-player coaches he’s assembled on his staff, be enough to entice high-profile free agents to come to Motown?
That’s the big question mark at this point. Generally speaking, big-name free agents are either looking for a payday or a ring. Neither is really something Detroit is capable of offering right now. Yes, they have a little bit of cap room and could make something work if necessary, but the rebuild coming in 2021 isn’t very enticing, even for the dollars and cents in return.
A youth movement is coming
The high-profile free agents will most likely get picked up by teams similar to the Los Angeles Rams – a team looking for the final piece to a Super Bowl puzzle. This leaves the low-profile, high-impact players, newly drafted players and undrafted free agents.
The Lions are starting to build up their draft stock and the trade of quarterback Matthew Stafford sure put the team in a good spot should they like to make a move this year or next for a player they covet. This means the team is building from inside. Not a bad thing, but could take longer than fans would like or even expect.
Young players like running back D’Andre Swift and tight end T.J. Hockenson will undoubtedly draw the fans’ interest as the flashy offensive weapons to watch. But on the defensive side of the ball, the Lions should be on the lookout to draft a player the fans can similarly be excited about watching and making big-time plays to help win games.
Think of someone like Chicago Bears linebacker Khalil Mack inserted into the Lions defense. A signal-caller on the other side of the ball to actually strike fear into the opposing offense. It doesn’t have to be a linebacker, it is just the easiest position to list where the Lions have been somewhat lacking in recent years.
Be it pick number seven in the upcoming draft or a second- or third-round gem, the draft is the answer for this team. The hope is this general manager and staff are solid at seeing talent and developing it into greatness. And wouldn’t that be some turn around if they hit on a few of those picks in 2021? If they don’t, the rebuild may be longer than expected.