3. TE Jesse James
Another member of the Lions’ 2019 free agent class, James was signed to a four-year, $25 million deal that offseason. He lasted two seasons in Detroit, catching 30 passes total while not being the blocker he was advertised to be coming off his tenure with the Pittsburgh Steelers. He latched on with the Chicago Bears in 2021 after being cut, and had seven catches in 14 games last season.
It’s hard to think the Lions actually had high expectations for James, especially once they drafted T.J. Hockenson in the top-10 of the 2019 draft. But they paid him like he was going to be their TE1, and he didn’t deliver anything close to that before Holmes made the easy decision to cut him.
2. QB Daunte Culpepper
Culpepper’s career was derailed by a major knee injury in 2005 with the Vikings, and he was never the same again. By the time the Lions signed him in the middle of the 2008 season (when they were 0-8 by the way), to a two-year deal even, he was a rotted-out half-shell of what he had been at his peak in circa 2003-2004 with Minnesota.
Culpepper appeared in 13 games for the Lions over the 2008 and 2009 seasons, with seven touchdowns and 12 interceptions in total with a 54.8 percent completion rate and an 0-10 record as the starter.
Matt Millen made a litany of mistakes running the show in Detroit, really too many to list without fear of missing something. But among free agent signings, even a lower-risk, mid-season one like this, buying into Culpepper as some kind of savior when his game was so clearly long gone has to take the cake.