Do I love these moves so far? No, not in and of themselves. Not on paper in isolation. I get frustrated with this board every free agency season as guys pretend like they know more than anyone else and shout down good observations and good questions that some here are asking. I think we should look a little deeper at what these moves MIGHT mean as I am not convinced that we get to see a bigger picture at this stage. I stand by my belief that this is the most important free agency period yet for the Lions, at least since 2011. I think we should roll up our sleeves and see if there is more going on then what we see now.
First…we drop Rick Wagner and sign Vaitai. Deadstroke noted this and I think it is important to see this move in context:
"Looks like a 3yr $26.5M deal or we can get out after 2yrs for $20M . . .Half the cash would be due in years 4 and 5, sure hope he earns a roster spot in years 4 and 5.
Halapoulivaati Vaitai (Lions), five years, $45M, $20M gtd, $7M signing bonus, salaries $4M (gtd), $9M (gtd), $6.5M, $8.9M, $8.9M; $500K playtime incentive 2024, $1.5M playtime base escalator 2023; up to $3M playtime base escalator 2024"
I am not convinced Vaitai IS the ROT of the future here. And I will not be convinced until after this draft. I want a blue chip defensive piece for sure. That smells like guard to me…and it might in fact be less than what Glasgow got with the Broncos. The issue to me is that Vaitai has worked at ROG with the Eagles and he played tackle. He IS capable of playing ROG and he might be a kick ass ROG.
If one thinks about drafting a blue chip OT in rd. 1 I frankly LOVE this OL:
Decker, Joe Dahl, Ragnow, Vaitai (ROG), Tristan Wirfs (ROT), swing tackle Tyrell Crosby, OG Josh Garnett (hell, he maybe beats out Dahl for the LOG spot!) and Beau Benzschawel (center anbd guard depth). That is a fantastic situation there. Is that the plan? I don’t know. Maybe. The draft will determine that. BUT…Vaitai can also play ROT meaning say if Chase IS there…we can draft Chase and move the chess pieces along the OL when necessary. I am cool with that. If that is the plan I LOVE that. And if we get a blue chip defender and don’t go OL in rd. 1 that could still work.
If we kept Wagner and say we re-signed Glasgow…no way we take an OT that high to become a swing tackle year one. I don’t see that happening. Signing Vaitai makes perfect sense IF the Lions are thinking and prepping for an OT ion rd. 1…and if a different move is necessary we can find a guard easier than a tackle. Last point, look at the stupid $ Flowers got.
Concerning the defense…this is where things get interesting. Is Kennard gone or maybe being traded? I don’t think we know yet. Don’t forget that Kennard was placed on the active/NFI list to start camp in 2019…with no known injury meaning conditioning may have been an issue. That must have driven Patricia NUTS if that was the case. Not professional at all period. But now we have Jamie Collins and we added DT Nick Williams.
Might there be a change concerning defensive scheme in the works? Maybe. Cory Undlin has experience in multiple schemes and has also worked with the Patriots and Patricia. I know that the Lions are getting back Da’Shawn Hand and I see Nick Williams as a rotational player with Hand. We tried to get Daniels to fill that role but injuries killed that plan. I also see we didn’t bring Daniels back so I guess maybe Mike Daniels’s demands may have still been high?
We still don’t have a #2 CB. I believe Slay is either here OR there is a plan to replace him…but as long as Slay is here he is here and I think he plays here in 2020. Slay’s best bet is to remain with the Lions and get paid.
The defense remains a mystery to me as this is in flux now. There are still a TON of free agents out there who can help this defense including CB Eli Apple (https://saintlyreport.com/2019/12/02/eli-apple-ranks-higher-then-plenty-of-other-big-name-nfl-corners/), Chris Harris, Logan Ryan, Prince A., Desmond Trufant and so on. Our own Tavon Wilson is still out there. And at DT we have Linval Joseph, Danny Shelton (I like this guy), Andrew Billings (I like this guy) and others too. Lots of ways to
change this defense.
I don’t know what the plan is on defense but there are moves to be made and players set up to help us. I don’t know if Jamie Collins simply replaces Kennard but if so…I am totally cool with that. At LBer right now we have Collins, Jahlani Tavai, Jarrad Davis and Christian Jones. We also have edge rusher Austin Bryant.
Just a lot of flux on defense. And the draft is coming. What of the Lions are going all in on offense meaning we take an OT in rd. 1 (that is great draft value there) and we follow that up with say J.K. Dobbins in rd. 2? I don’t know…but I know I am cool with that as long as the defense is ready for the opportunity cost of adding to the offense at the expense of the defense.
If this team can keep Slay, add a second CB and add a viable starting DT still as well as bringing back Tavon Wilson I would be okay with that. All things in context and the plan for the Lions has yet to reveal itself. But I am not freaking out as there a LOT of great options left. I love the idea of Eli Apple for example. 25 years old in August. Thoughts?