5 Detroit Lions with big contract implications this year
1. RB D’Andre Swift
There is no denying Swift’s potential. In technically 13 games last year, but 10 where he didn’t leave very early or have a limited workload, he topped 1,000 yards from scrimmage. He is legitimately one of the best pass-catching backs in the league (62 receptions last year).
But Swift has work to do as a pure runner, which he appears to be taking seriously after looking bulked up at Lions’ offseason work. He has also missed seven games over two seasons, so staying on the field is a core part of his next step and his new physical build can only help there.
Running backs coach Duce Staley issued a challenge to Swift to play through stuff, but upon further review it’s hard to take much issue with the injuries that have sidelined him (concussion, sprained AC joint in his shoulder). In any case, Swift has to stay on the field to have any chance to reach his full potential.
As a second-round pick in 2020 (35th overall), Swift is entering the third year of his four-year rookie contract. The short shelf life of NFL running backs demands they get paid big when they can, if they can.
Swift can line himself up for a nice multi-year extension from the Lions with a big 2022 campaign, and the team would be inclined to oblige if he delivers that. Or, a year from now, they may be fine letting him play out his rookie deal after notably adding to their running back pipeline in free agency or the draft.
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