Bigger Lions disappointment: Jahlani Tavai or Breshad Perriman?

Detroit Lions linebacker Jahlani Tavai (51) - Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Detroit Lions linebacker Jahlani Tavai (51) - Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports /

The Detroit Lions are in the midst of trimming down their roster down to 53 players on Tuesday. And two big names have now emerged as reported cut casualties. But which one is the bigger disappointment?

The Lions have reportedly decided to part ways with wide receiver Breshad Perriman and linebacker Jahlani Tavai. Both failed to meet lofty expectations in Detroit this summer, and the team could be the worse for it.

Perriman joined the Lions this offseason with a chance to start in Detroit. The legacy player whose father, Brett Perriman, played for Detroit in the 1990s, seemed destined to replace Marvin Jones as the team’s second receiver opposite fellow newcomer Tyrell Williams.

Unfortunately, a nagging hip injury combined with inconsistent play this summer doomed Perriman and his chances of making the final cut in Motown. Now, his absence leaves the Lions’ wide receiver corps in even worse shape than it was. And that’s saying a lot for a positional unit that was already considered one of the worst with Perriman on it entering the regular season.

While Perriman’s disappointment has been short-lived, Tavai’s disappointment stretches all the way back the 2019 NFL Draft when the Lions reached for the Hawaii linebacker in the second round. Drafted specifically for then head coach Matt Patricia’s defensive scheme, the big-bodied linebacker struggled to live up to his lofty draft status even in an ideal situation.

A regime and coaching change all but doomed Tavai’s chances of catching on with this year’s version of the Pride. But the third-year defender committed to cutting weight this offseason hoping to gain the speed that the new coaching staff in Detroit seems to covet. In the end, it wasn’t enough.

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So, which is the bigger disappointment in Detroit? For our money, we’re going with Tavai. While whiffing on a potential starting wide receiver is a major misstep for this rookie front office, Tavai was a remnant of a previous regime that’s had the better part of three years to improve and develop as an NFL linebacker. To see the team part ways with a second-rounder, the 43rd overall pick in 2019, before entering his third season is devastating.