ESPN writer stretches to find a way to knock Detroit Lions' offseason

By most accounts the Detroit Lions had a oretty good offseason. By most accounts, that is.

With the offseason dust now settled, it's fair to say the Detroit Lions had a good one. They addressed needs, notably bolstering the defense. Offensive coordinator Ben Johnson decided to stay for at least one more year. Not one, not two, but three big pieces of contractual business got done.

Most analysts would agree the Lions had a good offseason. General manager Brad Holmes is widely regarded as one of the best at his job, and overall it's a well-run operation in Detroit.

ESPN's Seth Walder (subscription required) graded every team's offseason. The Lions got a C, and only five teams (Falcons, Vikings, Cowboys, Raiders, Saints) got a worse grade.

Walder centered his grade on one big decision the Lions made this offseason.

ESPN writer stretches to find a reason to knock Lions' offseason

On a surface level, the four-year, $212 million deal the Lions gave Jared Goff feels too big and potentially limiting moving forward. But they were never compelled to go another direction, and the market said Goff was going to get at least approach $50 million per year in his new deal.

Walder thinks the Lions overpaid.

"The most important transaction the Lions made was the four-year, $212 million extension they handed to Goff. It’s not a move I can endorse at that price,” Walder wrote. “And it has the potential to hamper the organization for years. Goff is a divisive talent, but I think most would agree he’s not a top-10 QB and that offensive coordinator Ben Johnson deserves a fair share of credit for Detroit’s offensive success. If Johnson leaves for a head-coaching job in the near future, how effective would Goff be? It’s a fair question.”

Goff is very much a divisive talent. You can find whatever numbers you want to prove a case for or against him. In general, he's a notch or two below the very best quarterbacks in the NFL. The looming eventual departure of Johnson for a head coaching job is a legit thing in terms of Goff maintaining his recent level of play. But the point about Johnson disregards the growth Goff has shown overall.

Walder didn't stop there regarding the Goff contract.

"What are the odds the Lions want Goff to be their quarterback in 2027? I'm not sure they are that high and the downside is significant if the team decides to move off Goff in the next year or two, like the Rams did when they sent him to Detroit," Walder explained. "While there probably is some value in the team demonstrating faith in its quarterback, this was an awfully expensive way to do it -- particularly in terms of costing future optionality on him."

As a practical matter, the Lions are married contractually to Goff through 2027. So the odds the Lions want him to be their quarterback that year feel pretty strong, unless his performance falls off a cliff in the meantime. But Walder apparently couldn't be bothered to find those contract details.

Walder also offered up a convoluted scenario where the Lions let Goff play out his deal in 2024, then franchise tag him three times. The idea is it would've cost them less than the deal they gave him. The idea of tagging Goff three times, to borrow from Jeremy Reisman of Pride of Detroit, is patently absurd. Not to mention the message that would be sent to the locker room by trying to pinch pennies and go year-to-year with the quarterback. The Lions were never going to do that with Goff.

Walder liked everything else the Lions did this offseason. But paying Goff what the market literally bore for him, if they wanted to keep him long-term, was a bridge too far. And enough to take what seemingly would've been an A grade all the way down to a C.