The Detroit Lions were heavily figured into trade conversations during the 2017 off-season. Many of those trade scenarios involved the New England Patriots, with Lions General Manager Bob Quinn having an acute familiarity with many on their roster and a history of trade conversations between the two teams. The Lions would not trade for any major players to start the season, but with scouts in attendance at Gillette Stadium for the Patriots NFCS match up against the Panthers it is possible they haven’t stopped shopping. If it’s a possible trade target, who could it be?
Scouts from the Lions, Eagles and Buccaneers listed as in attendance for today's game at Gillette.— Adam Kurkjian (@AdamKurkjian) October 1, 2017
Malcom Butler, CB
The biggest name among trade targets this offseason for the Patriots was starting cornerback and 2016 All Pro Malcom Butler. Butler became a star for the Patriots after a game sealing interception of Russel Wilson in Super Bowl XLIX, but when contract talks began making rounds it was more of what we’ve become used to with Bill Belichick, talk of trades instead. It was heavily rumored the New Orleans Saints were going to try to acquire his services in the trade of Brandin Cooks, but that ultimately fell through. Butler has continued to play well for the Patriots, but rumors persist anyway. Acquiring Butler would be a strange choice for the Lions. They can afford to bring him in for 2017, but he would require a new contract going forward and that doesn’t make a lot of sense for the Lions. They’ve already locked up Darius Slay and drafted Teez Tabor in the 2nd round so picking Butler up for a one year rental would only make sense if the cost was low.
Dion Lewis, RB
"obviously teams know I'm not playing and they know I'm good player" Dion Lewis on trade rumors and current role https://t.co/FKCmc0e0uh— Michael Giardi (@MikeGiardi) September 28, 2017
Another possible trade target is running back Dion Lewis. Like Butler, Lewis is only under contract for 2017 and the Lions running back situation doesn’t make any sort of extension likely if they traded for Lewis. A consummate role player, Lewis has been an important piece of the Patriots offense the past couple of seasons but has seemingly fallen out of favor with only 8 rushes for 28 yards this year. The Lions have a capable starter in Ameer Abdullah and Theo Riddick provides a receiving threat. Beyond those two, the Lions rushing attack has struggled and an injection of talent could be possible even if it’s a bit odd to consider how that would work.
Shaq Thompson, LB
This would be a bit of a surprise. Thompson was drafted to be the successor to the timeless Thomas Davis and has been starting as the Panthers 3rd LB all season. The former 25th overall pick of 2015 is still only 23 and may not be hitting his ceiling yet. Still, the Panthers LB played only around 45% of defensive snaps prior to last week when he jumped up to over 90%. He played around half of their defensive snaps last season, but they’ve been waiting for him to take that next step. Would they be willing to part with a player who may still be nearing a breakout? He hasn’t been playing poorly, but he hasn’t lived up to his lofty draft status, either. As I said, it would be a bit surprising, but given the Lions depth at linebacker at the moment, it’d be worth asking those questions and seeing what you can offer.