The Seattle Seahawks had the pleasure of sending the Detroit Lions to their eighth-straight loss in a wild card game, extending the Lions streak of seasons without a playoff win to 25. It was Detroit’s fourth-straight loss after a 9-4 start became a collapse that gave way to the Green Bay Packers winning the division from them and forcing them to need a road win instead of getting a home game.
What are the Lions going to do to reverse their fortunes this time?
That’s a question that probably requires an answer that goes way beyond free agency and the draft. There’s a reason for a franchise being this bad for this long. However, general manager Bob Quinn seems to be better than most of the guys running the show in Detroit for the last few decades, so it’ll be interesting to see how they approach some big questions on the offensive and defensive line. Will Pete Carroll be poaching any of these players?
Impending Free Agents
Riley Reiff, OT
Before the 2012 draft, I recall Reiff being seen as more of a right tackle than a left tackle (I could be misremembering) but his NFL.com pre-draft writeup basically said he had no weaknesses. That’s not an opinion I think we’d share right now if Reiff was in this year’s draft and just had the combine he had in 2012: 8’2 broad jump, 23 reps on the bench, 26.5” vertical. Reiff isn’t athletic enough to play for the Seahawks at tackle or guard. He played left tackle for the first four seasons of his career before being moved to the right side in 2016 after they drafted Taylor Decker.
Larry Warford, G
Warford and Reiff both have ideal size, but Warford had an even worse combine (in 2013) than his buddy did. Warford’s broad jump was 8’ even, his vertical was 22.5”. Joel Corry predicted him in the $8 million/year range. You can forget about that happening in Seattle. Both Warford and Reiff are expected to test the market, with Reiff expecting to get more money for a team looking for a left tackle. I imagine Reiff leaves while Warford is the player they prioritize re-signing so they have some continuity on the offensive line, plus he’s three years younger.
Anquan Boldin, WR
On the low end of the wide receiver market, I could see the Seahawks checking in on Boldin because of his size and probable low-cost for a player turning 37 next season. Boldin had 67 catches and eight touchdowns last season while catching 70.7% of his targets, his highest catch rate since 2007. It’s a ‘maybe’ in a scenario where Boldin is available months from now, but nothing to worry about right out of the free agency gate.
Tyrunn Walker, DT
He’s shown promise in the past and had a decent pro day for Tulsa in 2012 (4.91 40-yard dash, 28” vert, 9’4 broad, 20 reps), but was benched last season and even became a healthy scratch once A’Shawn Robinson asserted himself as the better player. Walker’s 2015 season was ended after four games when he broke his leg against the Seahawks on Monday Night Football. The play was deemed a “cheap shot” by J.R. Sweezy, but it happened on a legal chop block. Walker could potentially get a flier with Seattle, if there’s no ill will.
Crezdon Butler, CB
A small note on Butler is that he’s 6’, 32” arms, but he was maybe Detroit’s worst cornerback and barely played.
Armonty Bryant, DT/OLB
His 2013 combine is too good to ignore: Nearly 36” arms, 6’4, 263 lbs, 4.86 40-yard dash, 31.5” vert, 9’10 broad jump, but coming out of East Central (OK) he fell to the 7th round. Bryant had 5.5 sacks for the Cleveland Browns in 2015 but was suspended for the start of 2016. The Lions picked him up when he was reinstated but he got suspended again after recording three sacks in five games. There’s football stuff to like about Bryant but off-field stuff that’s a serious issue. The suspensions were for substance abuse. Detroit is expected to re-sign Bryant because they stood by his side following his second suspension.
Devin Taylor, DE
A promising player, here’s what Pride of Detroit had to say about him:
Devin Taylor’s 2016 season was irrefutably a disappointment. The Lions lacked a pass rush all season, and Taylor’s play was a big reason for that. In his first two games, Taylor had 13 tackles and 1.5 sacks. He would never have more than three tackles in a game for the remaining 14 contests.
This suggests Taylor was hurt by Ezekiel Ansah’s injury, which happened in Week 2. Still, Taylor was expected to prove himself a legitimate starter on his own in 2016, and unequivocally failed in that mission.
Others: QB Dan Orlovsky, TE Matt Mulligan, TE Clay Harbor, OT Garrett Reynolds, WR Andre Roberts, S Rafael Bush, RB Joique Bell, CB Asa Jackson (incredibly short arms), OLB Josh Bynes, TE Tim Wright, LB Jon Bostic, DT Stefan Charles
Potential Cap Casualties
Haloti Ngata, DT (Save $5.7 million)
Now 33, Ngata’s play hasn’t been notable for a few seasons. He was no serious replacement for Ndamukong Suh and Detroit needs to upgrade their defensive line. One way to do that would be releasing Ngata and using the money saved on some younger, higher-upside players. With that being said, of course I would not expect/hope the Seahawks sign him if he does become a free agent.
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