That was quick.
Just minutes after suggesting the Detroit Lions could go after linebacker Zach Orr, who is contemplating coming out of retirement, Detroit appears to be doing exactly that. According to ESPN’s Dan Graziano, the Lions will be hosting the former Ravens linebacker for a visit on Thursday:
Free-agent LB Zach Orr will visit the Lions on Thursday. Eight teams have reached out so far since Orr told NFL... https://t.co/oODAMn1Kvr— Dan Graziano (@DanGrazianoESPN) June 28, 2017
Orr has had a wild past year. After entering the 2016 season without a single NFL start to his name, he finished the year as a second-team All Pro and leading tackler for the Ravens. However, a neck injury ended his year before the season finale. When neck pain persisted, Orr and a team of medical doctors investigated and found that Orr had a rare spine condition that could significantly increase his chance of paralysis and death as a football player. He retired in January without signing retirement papers.
However, Wednesday morning Orr announced he had received a differing opinion on his condition that said he was at no greater risk for such injuries and was contemplating a comeback. Because his contract has expired with the Ravens and because he wasn’t placed on Baltimore’s reserve/retired list, he is now an unrestricted free agent.
The Detroit Lions could undoubtedly use his talents. Linebacker was easily their weakest position last year, and although Detroit drafted Jarrad Davis with their first-round pick, the position remains relatively needy.
Orr, provided he is fully recovered from shoulder surgery, would come in and immediately compete for the weakside linebacker position with veteran Tahir Whitehead. Whitehead is entering the final year in his contract and is undergoing a position change after a disappointing season as the team’s middle linebacker in 2016. Though Orr played in a 3-4 defense in Baltimore as an inside linebacker, his skillset translates pretty well to a 4-3 OLB. In 2016 alone, Orr had three interceptions, 132 tackles and one forced fumble.
If Orr clears medically, the Lions will have to figure out a way to afford him. With seven other teams reaching out to Orr, he may become a pricey commodity. The Lions currently have just $5.78 million in cap space—only the Rams have less—so they may have to do some maneuvering to fit him in.