ESPN's Barnwell ranks every NFL team's offseason. Lions - 29th

29. Detroit Lions

What went right: The Lions went all-in on rebuilding their oft-frustrating secondary, trading cornerback Darius Slay and replacing him by signing Desmond Trufant and drafting Jeff Okudah at No. 3 overall. On paper, the trio of Okudah, Trufant and Justin Coleman would rank as one of the best cornerback combinations in the league. Trading for safety Duron Harmoncompleted the defensive back makeover. They will miss Slay, but even with him on the field last season, they allowed a passer rating of 97.4, which would have been the eighth-worst mark in the league.

What went wrong: Coach Matt Patricia and general manager Bob Quinn elected to rebuild most of their defense by acquiring the players Bill Belichick didn’t want to keep, a move that typically turns out poorly for other teams. Jamie Collins’ three-year, $30 million deal seemed particularly onerous for a linebacker who was a mess outside of New England during his run with Cleveland. The Lions will now start four former Pats on defense in Collins, Harmon, Trey Flowers and Danny Shelton. They look perilously thin along the defensive line, and while Belichick has been able to mold middling players into contributors across his front seven, Patricia’s players have generally been better elsewhere than they were playing for him in Detroit.

The Lions also weren’t able to parlay the No. 3 draft pick into a bidding war between the Chargers and Dolphins, forcing them to stay put. Okudah should be an impact cornerback, and I don’t have any issue with them drafting him, but this team could have sorely used an extra first-round pick. Detroit used its second-round pick on running back D’Andre Swift, and while he is a talented player, this isn’t a roster that can afford to use two second-round picks on running backs across three years. You could argue Kerryon Johnson is a sunk cost, but the Lions could have addressed running back with one of a number of veterans at minimal cost.

Instead, Detroit hit free agency yet again, and its deals were questionable. Trufant hasn’t lived up to expectations over the past three seasons. The five-year, $45 million deal it handed Halapoulivaati Vaitai pays the former Eagles swing tackle like he is an upper-echelon starter. It sure looks reminiscent of the big deal that Detroit handed former starting right tackle Rick Wagner, which didn’t work out.

What they could have done differently: Resisted the urge to go after as many former Patriots as possible. The Collins deal is a mess, and under Belichick, the Patriots have exhibited the ability to develop players such as Shelton and Harmon into useful contributors. Patricia and Quinn are trying to buy them instead. If the Lions couldn’t trade down in the first round, they should have used their second-rounder on a position that’s tougher to fill than halfback.

What’s left to do: Add defensive line help. Detroit signed Nick Williams to a two-year deal after he impressed with the Bears in his first significant stretch of pro action as a 29-year-old, but it needs another pass-rusher to mix in on a rotational basis. I’d love to see the Lions sign Jadeveon Clowney, but more realistically, this would be a landing spot for somebody like Jabaal Sheard on the edge or Marcell Dareus on the interior. Hey, one of those guys used to play for the Patriots!

If it makes anyone feel any better, the Bears’ offseason is ranked 31st, ahead only of (of course) the Texans.

Douche take.

EG 1, this ISN’T Cleveland and we’re running the same flipping defense that Collins excelled in.

EG 2, Danny Shelton was a FIRST ROUND PICK and NE is genius to “develop” players like that? While we “buy” them?

EG 3, He doesn’t have a problem with the Okudah pick, but we really could have used an extra first round pick? Uh… no shit, but no one was offering that so how can we be blamed for other teams not doing something incredibly stupid. Everyone knew the following: We had a very good franchise QB with a contract that would crush us financially to trade him. NY just drafted a first round QB last year. The Dolphins wanted Tua over Herbert and the Chargers were happy with Herbert. So that was that. I guess this doucher could have made it happen though… :roll_eyes:


I completely agree with what he said about buying New England players that Bellichick didn’t want. I totally disagree with him about swift though. Has there been a more difficult position to fill than halfback for the Lions? If it were so easy they would’ve found one in the past 20 years.


I read this. Seemed like so many threads here with far less analysis. Truthfully nothing he said was new or surprising. ESPN is purging same old shit. Not saying he is factually wrong, but his “should have” take with the #3 has been discussed at length. I was disappointed because literally there was nothing new.

EG 4: Although not on defense, Amendola’s performance with the Lions was comparable, if not better, than almost every season he had with the Patriots:

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I’d usually have some beef with signing so many “castoffs” from New England… Not this year though, I think their familiarity with the scheme will be a great benefit with the shortened offseason programs.

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It really did come off as an unpolished fan post. Seemed more like an SBNation contributor than an actual ESPN paid writer.

I think one difference as he mentioned BB has success when he takes guys like Kvn, shelton, and other cast offs and makes the work in his system. Patricia has not been able to improve not one player.

Can’t really argue with the article.

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I’m still in disbelief we couldn’t arrange a trade down from 3 with teams 5 and 6 both taking a QB. I thought there was no way team would risk not getting the guy they wanted. They must have felt completely comfortable that Quinn wasn’t moving.

Did we not “want” Graham Glasgow or did we not want Graham Glasgow for 11M per season? Tate? Slay? It’s a stupid premise that if you let someone leave you didn’t think they were a good player. BQ has said from the jump “right player, right price.” For US the right players at the right price were Collins, Shelton (who came cheap AF btw) and Harmon.

NE apparently didn’t “want” Danny Amendola, but all he did here last year was exceed the cost of his contract, bring a hard working leader into the room to help young guys like Goladay along, and virtually replaced the production we got with Tate at a much cheaper price, PLUS a 3rd round pick. So to me that was a great “buy” and I liked GT a lot.


No, the Chargers wanted Herbert and Miami wanted Tua. No one else wanted to move up bad enough for a QB, such as Carolina who took a DT. It’s only disbelief because we all wanted so bad for it to happen. The only thing we could have done to change the course of what happened was to draft Tua, which is a mighty game of chicken if Miami just takes Herbert because they don’t think the gap is wide enough to part with 2 first round picks. Or we trade down so far that getting Okudah at all would have been tough. It absolutely sucks, quite true, but it is not an indictment of BQ in the least. The article makes it seem like we just chose not to accept a deal that was. not. available to be had. Again, stupid premise on the part of the author IMO and giving negative points to BQ based on that is even more stupid.

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Here’s a list of former Patriots:

  1. WR Danny Amendola - A vital part of the passing attack from 2013-2017. He re-signed with Detroit earlier this offseason.
  2. DT John Atkins - Joined the Patriots as an undrafted free agent during training camp in 2019 (arguably, played better with the Lions than the Patriots because he didn’t play at all for NE).
  3. OL Caleb Benenoch - Joined the Patriots for a couple of weeks in 2019.
  4. OL Russell Bodine - The Patriots traded for Bodine before the start of the 2019 season. It didn’t work out.
  5. CB Justin Coleman - The Patriots scooped up Coleman twice as an undrafted rookie in 2015, briefly cutting him before making him a big part of their defense. He’s since gone on to be one of the league’s best slot corners. (arguably, was really a Seattle pickup because he only started 3 games out of 20 while with NE & 25% of the snaps, while starting 10 games with Seattle out of 32 games & 64% of the snaps).
  6. LB Jamie Collins - After a resurgent season in New England in 2019, Collins signed with the Lions earlier this week.
  7. DE Trey Flowers - A fourth-round pick in 2015, Flowers went on to become one of the Patriots’ best defensive lineman and scored a huge free-agent deal heading into the 2019 season.
  8. DB Duron Harmon - The one-time Patriots captain was part of a surprise trade to Detroit on Wednesday.
  9. DT Frank Herron - A UDFA in 2018, Herron has since bounced around the league.
  10. LB Christian Sam - A Patriots fifth-round pick in 2018, Same spend a season in IR before being cut before the 2019 season.
  11. DT Danny Shelton - The Patriots traded for Shelton before the start of the 2018 season. He’s since grown into a solid run stuffer and signed with the Lions on Wednesday.
  12. OT Dan Skipper - The 6-foot-10 tackle spent the 2019 season in the Patriots practice squad (to be more accurate, he was actually a Detroit Lion before he was ever a Patriot).

No longer with the team:

  1. DB Tavon Wilson - A Patriots second-round pick in 2012, Wilson has been with the Lions since 2016 (the one player who clearly played better with the Lions than the Patriots D).

  2. DT Darius Kilgo - The Patriots picked up Kilgo off of waivers in 2016 and kept him on their practice squad until he was cut at the start of the 2017 season.

  3. CB Rashaan Melvin - The Patriots picked Melvin up off of Waivers in 2015 and he played a solid role on their defense down the stretch.

That’s my disbelief. Its surprising to me that the teams wanted two different guys and were comfortable enough to know they didn’t need to trade up to ensure the pick.

Honestly, its rare and surprising it works out like that. Teams usually don’t pussyfoot around and go up and get their dude. It sounds like they didn’t get one single call.

Totally with you on that. I was/am surprised at that too. Miami and LAC definitely played chicken and won. If Tua goes on to be great and Herbert goes on to be middling, the Charger fans will be butthurt for the next decade. We thought Ebron over Donald still hurts. Man! TBD I suppose. As for me, we got the best man CB in the draft by far and the best since Ramsey who will get a contract in the 18-20m per season range very soon. We did ok. The next EDGE rusher didn’t go until Chaisson at 20. Kinlaw was the first pass rushing DT and went at 14. It was just a crap crop for our team up top this year so we did the best we could and I’m ok with it.


I guess time will tell if all these players from New England were right for us or not. I just don’t feel them good about them constantly going to that well so often. I just can’t feel confident that we are outsmarting BB all these times. Yeah The drop off from Tate to Amendola wasn’t too bad, I’ll give you that.

I completely disagree with his Collins take. Collins is a legit talent who has succeeded under Patricia before. It’s not like he’s some cast off with a lack of athleticism who is entirely a product of the Belichick system, he has some real talent and has shown to play well in the Patricia system before. The age thing is a bit of a concern but he’s an impact player.

Don’t agree with the Swift take either. For a team that lacks talent and hasn’t had any semblance of a running game for years, taking the best talent on the board was the right thing to do and something that goes against Quinn’s usual drafting style of scheme fit and high floor modest upside need over talent which was a nice change of pace.

I do agree with that Trufant and Vaitai are deals that could come back to haunt the Lions. One player who has significantly declined for a long time now and another who is largely unproven.
If Okudah isn’t ready to take on top cornerback duties this season, the Lions are going to be in a world of hurt if they are depending on Trufant to cover the best receivers.

I think he’s right if we are grading our offseason relative to the cap space and draft capital we had. I’m a lot more pessimistic about Collins than most of this board is.

While we definitely got better this offseason, we had the potential to get a LOT better.

And I still maintain this was Bob Quinn spin.

And The Apologists’ “B-b-but Adam Schefter said!” doesn’t sway me. Adam Schefter regurgitates whatever leaks and spin NFL executives want to feed him. (The New York Times and Washington Post do this on their daily anti-Trump stories, too, by the way.)

Agree 1000% on them going with the more familiar LeGarrette Blount for twice the money as Frank Gore.