Supposed competition added for Michael Badgley is insufficient

Michael Badgley is ripe to be replaced, but the Lions aren't all that serious about doing it.
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Upon re-signing Michael Badgley in February, before free agency even started, Lions general manager Brad Holmes immediately suggested competition would be added.

"Badgley, he's done a nice job. He's been clutch throughout his career. He's done what we've needed to do, so he's been good," Holmes said. "Now, with all positions, there will be competitions. And Badgley understands that, he knows there will be competition. But right now, I understand that he did a nice job, he signed, but he's still gonna have competition."

The veteran options in free agency were not necessarily plentiful, and also dried up quickly. But the "competition" for Badgley surely has to be better than last year's (John Parker Romo and Riley Patterson), right? To this point, the Lions are among the teams with interest in Michigan Panthers kicker Jake Bates, but he can't sign until the UFL season is over.

So eyes turned toward the draft, as sacrilegious as drafting a kicker is for some people. There's no quarrel to be taken with the selection of LSU defensive tackle Mehki Wingo in the sixth round (pick No. 189, after a trade up), but three kickers (Will Reichard, Josh Karty and Cam Little) were taken later in the round.

Badgley is a fine kicker. But his track record from longer distances outdoors was surely known, and may have played a role in Dan Campbell's "controversial" fourth down aggressiveness in the NFC Championship Game loss to the 49ers. Critics of Campbell's aggressiveness seem to think it was a virtual guarantee Badgley would have made either of those long attempts.

"Competition" added for Michael Badgley is patently insufficient

With the draft in the books, it became a lock the Lions would add an undrafted rookie kicker as "competition" for Badgley. On Sunday they did so, with Anthony Broome of On3 reporting they've signed former Michigan kicker James Turner.

Turner started his college career at Lousville, kicking there for three years before transferring to Michigan last year. Looking at his total college track record, we get a "one of these things is not like the others" vibe.

2020 (Louisville) 40-of-40 on extra points; 13-of-15 on field goals (86.7 percent)
2021 (Louisville): 46-of-48 on extra points, 14-of-22 on field goals (63.6 percent)
2022 (Louisville): 38-of-39 on extra points, 20-of-22 on field goals (90.9 percent)
2023 (Michigan): 65-of-66 extra points, along with 18-of-21 (85.7 percent) on field goals

Turner's career long field goal was 50 yards, which he did three times for the Wolverines last season. But that 2021 season making less than two-thirds of his field goals stands out like a sore thumb.

Ideally the Lions would have made a more genuine effort to add competition for Badgley, or outright replace him for good, by this point. At least there's someone coming to compete now.

No offense to Turner, but adding an undrafted rookie feels like a cursory "hey, we added competition" move-with no actual intent to make Badgley win the job.

Detroit Lions UDFA tracker: Every undrafted free agent the Lions have signed. Detroit Lions UDFA tracker: Every undrafted free agent the Lions have signed. dark. Next