A lot has been made of Detroit Lions new general manager Bob Quinn bringing "The Patriot Way" to Detroit. What that exactly means isn't really clear, but it sounds impressive. However, one likely possibility is that Quinn will bring in players that he is familiar with, because that's what nearly every new general manager does.
Quinn's former employer, the New England Patriots, announced on Wednesday that they have released wide receiver Brandon LaFell and tight end Scott Chandler. Both players were significant performers in New England and both fit a modest need for the Lions. Most importantly, both players can be traced directly back to Quinn.
LaFell joined the Patriots in 2014, while Quinn was the team's director of pro scouting. In other words, Quinn likely had a major hand in bringing LaFell to New England. In LaFell's two years with the Patriots, he accumulated 1,468 receiving yards and 7 receiving touchdowns, although he failed to score once in 2015.
Chandler was also likely evaluated by Quinn, having signed with New England in 2015. He started four games for the Patriots, hauling in 259 yards and 4 touchdowns along the way. For the most part, Chandler spent the year as the backup tight end, although he saw playing time in 15 regular season games.
Here's what our friends over at Pats Pulpit had to say about both players:
Wide receiver Brandon LaFell was a crucial part of the Patriots 2014 Super Bowl team, but suffered a foot injury that required offseason surgery. The recovery period leaked into the regular season and LaFell wasn't the same player in 2015.
Tight end Scott Chandler was signed away from the Bills in order to provide back-up in case of an injury to Rob Gronkowski. Chandler suffered a knee injury of his own, but he battled drops throughout the season and fell so far out of favor that quarterback Tom Brady wouldn't look in his direction.
Chandler fell behind Gronkowski and blocking tight end Michael Williams in the depth chart. Releasing Chandler will increase the Patriots cap space by an additional $1.5 million.
With Calvin Johnson's retirement decision looming in the (hopefully) near future, the Lions need for a wide receiver becomes more desperate. Even if Johnson decides to stay, the Lions don't have any reliable depth below Golden Tate on the roster. LaFell could be that depth, if he can recover back to 2014 form. LaFell is 29 years old.
The Lions are in pretty desperate need for a tight end and Chandler could be that guy. Although he didn't have a very successful year with the Patriots, he could come as cheap, experienced depth. If the Lions acquired Chandler, it could also make Brandon Pettigrew expendable, giving the Lions an option to release Pettigrew to save some cap space.* Although Chandler will be 31 before the season begins, he still has talent both in pass-catching and run-blocking. The Lions don't have a current player on the roster that can offer both at the level Chandler can.
But this decision will eventually come down to what Quinn sees in them. He is likely very familiar with both players, and if he liked what he saw, you can expect the Lions to make a play for both athletes soon.
*The amount of cap space the Lions would save on Pettigrew may not be too much, however. Since Pettigrew is coming off an injury, the Lions would have to reach an injury settlement with him, and would likely have to pay some, if not all, of his 2016 salary.