In the weeks leading up to Detroit Lions training camp, we’re going to do a position-by-position breakdown of where the roster stands. Our series continues with the Lions offensive tackles.
(The final year of each player’s contract is listed in parentheses.)
Starters: Rick Wagner (2021), Greg Robinson (2017)
Backups: Taylor Decker (2020)
On the bubble: Cyrus Kouandjio (2017), Cornelius Lucas (2017), Corey Robinson (2018)
Long shots: Tony Hills (2017), Storm Norton (2019)
The Detroit Lions were already in the midst of overhauling their offensive line this year when they decided to move on from both Riley Reiff and Larry Warford—the entire right side of their offensive front. Unfortunately, they were forced to scramble even more when Taylor Decker reportedly suffered a torn labrum that could keep him out anywhere between 4-6 months. The Lions immediately created an intense competition for left tackle when they traded for Greg Robinson and added Cyrus Kouandjio in free agency.
Greg Robinson is clearly the leader to take over, if for no other reason than the Lions are financially committed to him to the tune of $3.32 million guaranteed. The only other left tackle that comes close to that kind of financial investment is Cornelius Lucas, but his $1.8 million one-year contract is completely non-guaranteed. It’s very likely Detroit cuts Lucas to create some much needed cap space. However, the Lions can’t afford to do that right now with both Cyrus Kouandjio and Corey Robinson on the mend from injuries.
On the other side of the line, Detroit invested huge in Rick Wagner to shore up and solidify their right tackle position for the next five years. Wagner has the eighth highest cap hit on the team in 2017 ($5.9 million) but that number shoots up to $11.9 million in 2019. Detroit hopes Wagner brings some stability to a position that has had a new starter nearly every year over the past decade.
Need going forward?
Despite not drafting an offensive lineman in the 2017 NFL Draft, the Lions did just about as much tinkering to their tackles as humanly possible in one offseason. It’s clear Wagner and Decker are the planned starters for the long-term, but it appears there will soon be a changing of the guard in who their backups are in the immediate future. Lucas could be on the way out, while the additions of Greg Robinson and Cyrus Kouandjio—both on one-year contracts—are essentially on tryouts to stay beyond 2018. Considering both players are under 25 years old, Detroit may have not only added competition for 2017, but well beyond.