Best and Worst Offseason Moves: Detroit Lions
- Updated: April 5, 2013
As we eagerly await the arrival of the 2013 NFL Draft, we continue our tour around the league, examining the best and worst offseason moves each team has made so far. Yesterday we looked at the Chicago Bears. Today we are examining the Detroit Lions.
General manager Martin Mayhew and president Tom Lewand took a hiatus from free agency last year, choosing to focus on retaining talent already on the roster. The result left much to be desired, as Detroit slipped from a Wild Card berth in 2011 to a 4-12 record lowlighted by a -16 turnover differential, disappointing play by all four defensive ends, struggles in the red zone, and devastating injuries (not to mention insanity) among recent second- and third-round picks.
This year, the front office has taking a two-pronged approach, not only re-signing vital players like cornerback Chris Houston, but also dipping into the free-agent pool to reinforce positions of need. As is to be expected, they have connected on some shots and misfired on others.
After two successful seasons with a solid Houston Texans defense, safety Glover Quin was signed to a five-year, $23.5 million deal. A converted cornerback, Quin is good in coverage and can take on tight ends one on one. He is also strong in run support. Reassuringly for a team that has experienced so many injuries in the secondary, he is durable, having missed only one game in four years. He will provide an insurance policy should injury-prone safety Louis Delmas get hurt again in 2013.
Just as importantly, running back Reggie Bush was brought aboard for four years on a $16 million contract. Bush, who had 16 carries of 15 yards or more last season, provides the breakaway threat Detroit desperately needs. Plus he can return punts and represents a huge upgrade over Stefan “Fair Catch or Fumble” Logan. He has demonstrated his durability, putting up two consecutive seasons with over 200 carries, while averaging five yards per carry in 2011. Provided he can stay healthy, the acquisition of Bush will go a long way toward rectifying the debacle that was Jahvid Best’s injury situation.
Based on how the linebacker market has developed this year, Detroit overpaid for DeAndre Levy, re-signing him for three years at $9 million prior to the start of free agency. They picked Levy over Justin Durant because Levy is younger and considered a three-down linebacker, whereas Durant is good in run defense but struggles in coverage. Given how cheaply the Dallas Cowboys signed Durant, Detroit missed out on a deal. If other players like Ashlee Palmer, Travis Lewis, and Tahir Whitehead step up and Levy returns to his pre-injury form, this move will not look so bad in retrospect. For now, it looks like an expensive mistake.
Proof in the pudding
So far it has been a good free-agency period for Mayhew. He needs to score some major successes this year, as 2013 will probably turn out to be the “prove it or move it” season for both himself and head coach Jim Schwartz. He still has the draft to prop up a roster that struggled last year. Will the draft picks and free-agent acquisitions be enough? Regardless of how talented the newcomers are, the players already on the roster — both on offense and on defense — must show more than they did last year if this team is going to make it over the hump.
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