Lean In or Bail Out?: The Lions’ Direction Going Forward

Pleased is a criminal understatement for how Detroit fans should be feeling about the recent performance of their team. The Detroit Lions have the most relevance on the gridiron and in the media (it all started with biting some kneecaps) they’ve had in years. Sitting at 7-7, they’re also in hot pursuit of a playoff spot. Many, and arguably most, talking heads in sports had the Lions nowhere near this position. And yet, here they stand. With attention mainly directed at the season’s dead sprint of a final three weeks, I decided to take a different approach. This is an incredibly young, determined, and ultimately unproven team. How does the front office handle a suddenly solid squad? Do they continue grabbing picks in trades, do they push all in while their youth is still working towards their prime, or do they act with a mix of both?

Teardown, Reconstruct, Repeat
The subtitle above this is an all-too-true example of the Lions’ cycle for most of the past 20-30 years, ever since Barry Sanders churned up opposing defenses in the NFC Central (even this is a stretch, considering Barry was the team). This hopeless repetition may stop soon because of better drafting in recent years and a gargantuan draft pick haul from trading away Matthew Stafford. Detroit’s main offensive power outside of Jared Goff was acquired through the draft. Players like Amon-Ra St. Brown, T.J. Hockenson (until he got traded recently to the Minnesota Vikings for even more picks), Frank Ragnow (Detroit’s only Pro Bowler this year), Penei Sewell, and hopefully Jameson Williams all fit under that category. Even with this newfound ability to tackle the offseason effectively, does the Lions’ front office want to continue strengthening this roster through the draft before getting ahead of themselves? Regardless of how the rest of this season plays out, Detroit will still have two first round picks and two second round picks to continue their strong streak. The biggest question to me right now is how far back into a rebuild are they willing to go now that they know their team can win? They’ve already shown their willingness to part with key pieces, trading Hockenson as mentioned earlier, right before starting their ridiculous back half of the season. There’s a number of veterans on this squad, so maybe they’re up next to gather up more draft capital? I don’t see prepping for another good draft as a bad idea, but I’m always concerned with overselling/making a bad trade.

Eager or Overzealous?
Going all in would probably be my least favorite option, for a multitude of reasons. First off, it’s just incredibly difficult to try and go out and trade or sign your way into a win-now team in the NFL. There are so many moving parts that it would be nearly impossible to pull off cleanly. Even if you do pull it off cleanly, like last year’s L.A. Rams, you forfeit your foreseeable future for a ring (which is worth it, at least to me). Secondly, something that I touched on earlier, this is a really young team. The window is opening, not closing, so bringing in stars near their fall-off is unnecessary. I’m all for using free agency and other methods like it to get some new talent, but using a sizable piece of their draft day power would be a terrible move in my eyes.

Final Thoughts
Realistically, the best move for this franchise is a mix of both in pretty equal splits. Getting more picks could never hurt, but pawning off a core piece of this team would be detrimental. Signing and trading for more depth and a secondary playmaker/solid linebacker is awesome, blowing all of your cap space is not. Overall, I’m as excited for this team’s future as any non-fan can possibly be, whether or not those millionaires heed a teenager’s advice.
Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x