Detroit Lions general manager Bob Quinn survived his first round of roster cuts as an NFL general manager. Monday marked a big day for Quinn, as he started fine-tuning the 90-man roster he created into a slimmer group of 75. Monday marked the most moves Quinn made in a single day, releasing 10 players, placing one on injured reserve and officially trading for another. Each move Quinn makes takes him out of the shadow from his Patriots days into a career of his own. So what have we learned about the first-time general manager after the first round of cuts? Let’s take a look.
He isn’t afraid of admitting mistakes
The Lions quickly cut ties with three significant free agency additions that were once believed to have a near-guaranteed spots on the roster. First, Stevan Ridley was brought aboard to be the Lions’ power runner in 2016, but he was gone before the third preseason game. When Jeremy Kerley was added in late March, it looked like he’d be a shoo-in as part of the Lions’ receiver depth, but Quinn quickly traded him before the necessary 75-man cut. Finally, Geoff Schwartz provided much-needed veteran depth along the offensive line, but when he failed emerge as a true upgrade, he was let go.
Quinn brought these guys in expecting them to be a part of the team in 2016, even offering fairly high signing bonuses in a few cases. The Lions suffered a $250,000 cap hit after releasing Ridley and $200,000 for Schwartz. Despite that relatively high cost, Quinn didn’t let his pride get in the way and cut ties when he believed he needed to. That takes some guts.
He gives veterans an extra chance to get signed
Just because a player didn’t work out in Detroit doesn’t mean they won’t land and succeed elsewhere. Quinn knows that, and if the order of his cuts any sign, he respects that part of the process.
Stevan Ridley wasn’t the worst guy on the Lions’ 90-man roster, yet Quinn did him the favor of being the first player released, allowing the five-year veteran to find his footing with another NFL team. Ridley signed with the Colts just three days later.
The same could be said with Schwartz, who will almost certainly find another home this offseason after being released Monday morning. The Lions could have cut ties with other, worse offensive linemen (looking at you, Luke Marquardt), but instead they gave Schwartz a few extra days to land on his feet.
He’s building the team for the future
Quinn’s early roster choices show his affinity for younger players on the Lions’ roster. The Kerley trade is the perfect example. Instead of keeping around an aging receiver, the Lions swapped for a young lineman with untapped potential in Brandon Thomas.
Elsewhere, the Lions may be keeping a young guy like Cole Wick over the now-cut Matthew Mulligan. Crezdon Butler was let go, while Alex Carter took a big step toward making the final 53. Ridley is gone, and now rookie running back Dwayne Washington is likely to stick around.
Quinn also seems drawn to young players that have had their careers sidetracked by injury or unfilled potential. The Lions showed interest in 25-year-old Barkevious Mingo, despite the fact that the athletic phenom never caught on in Cleveland. When the Lions did end up swinging a trade, they landed a lineman who was once considered a first-day draft prospect, but never ended up recovering from a torn ACL suffered just before the draft. Even the Ridley signing required a bit of faith that the aging running back would rebound after injuries slowed his career.
Though we don’t know if any of Quinn’s strategies will work in the long-term, we at least know a little bit about his roster philosophies. When the Detroit Lions landed Quinn as their general manager, not much was known about the mysterious Patriots executive. But as he continues to distance himself from The Patriot Way, the Lions slowly learn the kind of person they have running their personnel department.