88 more days. Just 88 more days until the NFL preseason opens its doors and we can finally get some football around here. Boy do we need it. As we prepare to enter month four of the NFL offseason, training camp is just around the corner.
With that in mind, can we really say at this time that the Detroit Lions roster is ready to go? We know it’s not. The Lions have needs at receiver, corner, the defensive line and in the linebacking corps just to name a few. I can’t say I fully trust this team as it is.
So with that in mind, I scoured the open market looking for players the Lions should go out and get to help maximize their roster. I’ll be honest, the cupboard is somewhat bare. There’s a lot of old guys out there, but there’s also some guys that can help make a difference. Here are those five guys.
Sam Shields, Cornerback
“But wait Mike, didn’t you have Shields on your first volume of this year’s Just Say No series?” Why yes I did, concerned Lions fan. Here’s the reason I did that. Shields had just been cut by the Packers due to injury. He only played one game in 2016.
What I didn’t want was for the Lions to sign Shields as part of their big free agent take this summer. What I’m okay with now is taking no-risk flier on a guy that outside of his injury issues last year, has been a pretty solid corner during his career.
I’m not saying Shields should start. I’m not even saying he would even make the 53-man roster. But what I am saying is that if there is still great play to wring out of Shields, the Lions could be that team twisting the towel.
Ronnie Hillman, Running back
Okay, so here is one that even I’m not so sure about. What I do know is that I can’t say with certainty that I’m fully comfortable with the Lions current running back situation. That’s not to say I don’t like the players, because I do. I love it in theory. But will it work? I don’t know.
It just feels like it could use one more piece. Enter Ronnie Hillman. Two years ago, Hillman looked like he could be growing into a reliable running back that could be a long-term starter for the Broncos.
Then after getting some real run for the first time in his career, the Broncos cut him. Then the Vikings brought him in for five games. Then cut him. He finished last season with the Chargers. What happened?
There’s really nothing to point to here. Hillman never got hurt. He doesn’t have an attitude problem. He wasn’t arrested. He was just used and dropped. The Lions should take a look. Again, not as a starter, of course. But at 25 years old, Hillman is still quite young and will be inexpensive. Why not take a shot on a guy that can help in the rotation?
Stedman Bailey, Wide receiver
Now I’m really going outside the box. The Lions currently have their three receivers, on paper at least. But they don’t have much outside of that... except the great Jace Billingsley.
What I feel the Lions could use is another guy like Golden Tate. Bailey is not nearly as fast, but he is somewhat proficient after the catch. Of his 831 career receiving yards, 231 came after the catch. That’s not too bad.
I know this is a bit unorthodox, but look at it this way, we’re talking about the Lions fifth or sixth receiver on the roster.
What I really like about Bailey is his heart. In November of 2015, Bailey was shot multiple times. Twice in the head. This man should be dead right now. Instead, he went back to work after recovering from surgery. Now he’s looking for a shot. The Lions could be that team to give him that shot.
Jared Odrick, Defensive end
Why is Odrick still on the market? And why haven’t the Lions called him immediately? As we know, Detroit is in dire need of a pass rush. Adding Odrick helps fill that need.
Yes Odrick did miss ten games last year with a shoulder injury. Outside of that, Odrick has been healthy his entire career. He can both get after the quarterback and stop the run. He has played defensive tackle, defensive end and linebacker in the NFL. The guy has way too much talent to not be in Detroit.
Oh yeah, and he’s only 29 years old. If the Lions don’t add Odrick to their roster, some team will. Mark my words.
Colin Kaepernick, Quarterback
Yup, I’m going there. Here are my thoughts: This isn’t about politics. It shouldn’t be. The NFL is a business, and teams need to find themselves in the business of winning. The fact is Colin Kaepernick is way too good to not have a team to play for.
Let’s look at the Lions current depth at quarterback. You have Matthew Stafford and two giant question marks. Can anyone say at this time that the Lions would be safe with either Jake Rudock or Brad Kaaya manning the helm if Stafford gets hurt?
At this point, we simply don’t know. Are either ready for that type of moment? Or are they just two third-string quarterbacks looking to simply make a roster? The serving size is way too small.
So with that in mind, what if they are the latter? What if Matthew Stafford does get hurt? Are you comfortable with wasting the season away or would you like to still have a shot at success? Colin Kaepernick gives the Lions that shot. In fact, he gives any team that shot. Of course you would have to wind up parting with one of the current backups, but by the time you have Kaep on the roster, is one of those players leaving really a loss?
So when you strip away the politics, what is it that I’m proposing? I’m proposing the Lions sign a 29-year-old quarterback with playoff and Super Bowl experience to back up their once-in-a-lifetime talented quarterback in case he gets hurt. When you put it that way, seems like a pretty good idea, right?