LeGarrette Blount agreed to terms with the Eagles on Wednesday, ending the Detroit Lions’ best chance to upgrade their backfield in 2017. Blount was easily the best running back still on the market, but it appears bringing him into Detroit was not a high priority for general manager Bob Quinn.
Though Quinn has maintained his confidence in Detroit’s current set of running backs, his actions speak otherwise. He may not have drafted a running back, but he brought in Matt Asiata for a tryout, reportedly had interest in Blount and threw a $10,000 signing bonus at undrafted free agent Tion Green.
All three of those backs have one thing in common: power. Whether they’ll publicly admit it or not, the Lions are still in the market for a power back, but with Blount gone from free agency, their options appear very limited. Still, we’ve seen Quinn make some savvy moves in the offseason before, so he may not be done fidgeting with Detroit’s backfield depth chart just yet. But with the market so bare, there is really only one clear option for Quinn and company:
Sign Christine Michael
Michael isn’t quite built like a prototypical power back (5-foot-10, 221 pounds), but he plays like it. Often used as a short-yardage back, Michael led the Seahawks with six rushing touchdowns in 2016, and has averaged a respectable 4.3 yards per carry throughout his career.
If the Lions were truly interested in Matt Asiata, it would only make sense that Michael should be considered, as well. Michael is essentially a better, stronger and younger version of Asiata. They’re built similarly (Asiata is 6-foot, 219 pounds), but Michael plays with more physicality and his stats are much better.
2016: 121 rushes, 402 yards (3.3 YPC), 6 TDs
2015: 29 rushes, 112 yards (3.9 YPC), 0 TDs
2014: 164 rushes, 570 yards (3.5 YPC), 9 TDs
2016: 148 rushes, 583 yards (3.9 YPC), 7 TDs*
2015: 54 rushes, 243 yards (4.5 YPC), 0 TDs
2014: 52 rushes, 254 yards (4.9 YPC), 0 TDs
*combined stats between games with the Seahawks and Packers
So why is Michael still unemployed? It’s complicated. Michael was having a decent year with the Seahawks last season, when Seattle surprisingly waived him in November, despite starting seven games for the team. But Thomas Rawls returned to the lineup after injury and rookie C.J. Prosise began to emerge, making Michael expendable. There were also rumors that he had trouble making the correct reads in Seattle.
Michael then joined the Packers for the rest of the season and was re-signed back to Green Bay in March. However, they added three running backs in the 2017 NFL Draft, making Michael expendable once again.
In Detroit, Michael wouldn’t immediately be given a spot on the 53-man roster, but he would provide some proven competition at the power back role. Zach Zenner is currently the best candidate the Lions have for the job, but the undrafted talent has yet to show he can assume that role for an entire season.
Two months ago, the Packers signed Michael to a one-year, $800,000 deal before releasing him on May 1. Detroit could swoop him up on a very small deal, add some much-needed competition and if it doesn’t work out, they can let him go much like they did with Stevan Ridley last year.
Should the Lions go after Christine Michael?
This poll is closed