I have to tell you, I did not think that I would be writing offseason articles last week. I’m sure many looked at a beat up Bengals team and thought the Lions would be able to handle their business and keep their playoff hopes alive. Well, we were wrong.
With that loss, the discussions begin. The big topic on everyone’s mind is who’s not going to be in Detroit next year? I know most of you are sure Jim Caldwell and company are the first on the chopping block, and I don’t think you’re wrong at all. But there are going to be some players joining him. And we here at Pride of Detroit think we know who those guys may be.
So let’s jump right into it with a veteran defensive linemen whose injury killed the Lions ability to stop the run.
This one seems like a foregone conclusion at this point. Ngata missed nearly the entire 2017 season with an injury, and I can’t see why he would even want to come back at this point.
The soon to be 34-year-old defensive tackle has done it all in his career. It makes way too much sense to see him hang it up and retire once he inevitability wins the Walter Payton Man of The Year award that he so badly deserves to win. What a perfect way to go out for a man that’s already a world champion.
The other obvious factor here is that Ngata will be a free agent. With Jim Caldwell likely gone, there isn’t a whole lot tying Ngata to the Lions anymore. If he feels like he wants to give it another year, who knows if the Lions—with a completely new coaching staff—will have him? Ngata may just want to go back home to Baltimore and call it a career there.
This one is tough. On one hand, you have Swanson as an upcoming free agent. There’s a good chance he’ll want to see what he can get on the market and there’s a good chance the Lions may want to upgrade after Matthew Stafford took more hits in 2017 than any other year of his career.
The other issue is that Travis’ career is starting to come into question. The center is recovering from a brain injury for the second year in a row. Travis may have to look at things in the offseason and see if he wants to continue his career with the risks at hand.
Either way, both scenarios have Swanson heading out of the Motor city.
This one I’m not so sure about. Of all the hunches I’m playing in this piece, this is the most hunchiest. Hyder is a exclusive rights free agent. This means the Lions can offer the league minimum for one year and Hyder can either take it or not play football in 2018.
I’m guessing the Lions will likely do this, but at the same time, I see the Lions, under a new staff, rebuilding this line nearly from top to bottom. A’Shawn Robinson and Ezekiel Ansah will likely be the only ones left standing.
In that scenario, the Lions move on from Hyder and he gets paid by another team. The reason I think the Lions could move on is because Hyder feels like a mirage. He exploded out of the gate in the first four games of the 2016 season and made a name for himself. He notched six tackles and five sacks in the time. In the remaining 12 games, Hyder notched just 17 tackles and three sacks.
Is Hyder a great player or a guy that can be a strong role player either in Detroit or somewhere else? We’re going to find out soon enough.
Here we go. This one feels like a heartbreaker. The Lions and their fans had such high hopes in Ameer Abdullah, but those hopes have dwindled dramatically in 2017. Ameer was supposed to be the Lions’ No. 1 back when they drafted him in the 2015 draft.
Three years later, Abdullah has not lived up to the promise he showed in his rookie year. I’m not sure if that’s because of the injury that kept him out the entire 2016 season, or if it’s his ball-handling skills that have burnt him. Either way, It looks like the Lions have flat out given up on him in the past few weeks.
Remember, with the exception of Tion Green and Dwayne Washington, every Lions running back is a Martin Mayhew guy. I’m guessing Bob Quinn is going to want to take his own crack at fixing the Lions’ run game. This essentially means that only Theo Riddick will survive.
The Lions won’t take a hit on dropping Abdullah either. They’ll lose just $320,660 in dead money, and they’d actually free up nearly $1 million in cap space. The other thing is that Ameer will obviously become really good somewhere else because of course he will.
Like Hyder, there’s a chance the Lions stick with Ameer and make him prove it next season. But at this point, it’s looking a lot like Hyder will have the better chance.
Zach Zenner and Dwayne Washington
I know I said five players, but I’m going with six because these two seem like they should go together here. Let’s be honest with ourselves, what are these two doing here? They both have combined for 70 yards and a touchdown. What’s the point?
I love Zach Zenner. Everyone does. He’s a great guy and, at times, can be a fun football player. But he’s just not cutting it at this point. The Lions have a real quest on their hands in the offseason to find a way to finally make this run game work and he just doesn't have any place in it. Don’t worry, though, the guy is a rocket scientist, he’ll be alright.
As for Dwayne, injuries have been his biggest problem. He only played five games in 2017 and he’s had a hard time finding touches anywhere. With the rise of Jamal Agnew, he also lost his job as the Lions return man. There’s a future for Washington somewhere. I believe he has the talent to catch on in another system, but he’s just too buried in Detroit right now and that makes him expendable.