Now that we’re in full offseason mode, we’re going to review every single Detroit Lions player that finished the 2016 season under contract. We’ll look at their expectations coming into the season, whether they met those expectations and what to expect of them going forward. We will begin with the upcoming free agents, as they are the most intriguing and time sensitive.
Expectations before 2016
Cornelius Lucas played in 15 games in both 2014 and 2015, making three starts each season. Even given this experience, he was on the fringe of the roster right before the 2016 season began, with many expecting him to be on the wrong side of the bubble. However, an untimely injury to Michael Ola led way to his release, securing Lucas‘ spot as a rotational offensive lineman.
Actual role in 2016
2016 stats: 7 games (1 start)
Lucas played less than 30 snaps between Week 1 and Week 16, seeing the field as mostly a sixth lineman or occasional injury replacement. However, when Riley Reiff was out Week 17, Lucas saw a handful of snaps as the backup right tackle and wound up getting the start during the playoff loss against Seattle. Pro Football Focus gave him a 55.4 grade overall, which was not impressive, but his 70.4 pass-blocking grade was the second-highest for a Lions tackle.
Outlook for 2017
Contract status: Restricted free agent
In three years with Detroit, Lucas has failed to impress. But with the options so thin at right tackle, especially with Reiff hitting free agency, the Lions might be best served bringing Lucas back. As a restricted free agent, they will have to decide just how valuable he is, but given the need for depth it almost seems like they have no choice but to offer him a tender.
Previously profiled Lions: Riley Reiff, Anquan Boldin, Dan Orlovsky, Devin Taylor, Rafael Bush, Don Muhlbach, Larry Warford, Andre Roberts, TJ Jones, Kerry Hyder, Jon Bostic, Marvin Jones, Alex Carter, Tim Wright, Armonty Bryant, Clay Harbor, Crezdon Butler, Matthew Mulligan, Asa Jackson, Tyrunn Walker, Josh Bynes, Stefan Charles