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2017 Detroit Lions roster review: RB Mike James is still hanging around

NFL: SEP 07 Panthers at Buccaneers Photo by Mark LoMoglio/Icon Sportswire/Corbis via Getty Images

Our 2017 roster review will reexamine the Lions’ roster and how it played out last season. We’ll take a look at expectations, performance and potential role in the future.

Today, we continue our discussion with Detroit Lions running back Mike James.

Mike James

Expectations before 2017

After losing Mike James to the waiver wire during the 2016 season, the Lions were able to reacquire him in December. The Lions quickly committed to James once the season ended, signing him to a futures contract in early January 2017.

James wasn’t really expected to be part of the conversation at running back in 2017, especially on offense. James does have a history of special teams experience, so there was a chance he’d win a roster spot through those contributions.

Though he was always buried on the depth chart behind Ameer Abdullah, Theo Riddick, Zach Zenner, Dwayne Washington and even Tion Green, both head coach Jim Caldwell and general manager Bob Quinn always seemed to mention James as a legitimate weapon in their backfield.

“We feel good about Zach (Zenner). We feel good about Dwyane (Washington), feel good about Mike James,” Quinn said back in April 2017.

“We like what we see in that particular area and he’s developing and then we’ve got Mike James as well,” Caldwell said this past May.

Those aren’t exactly ringing endorsements, but they both made sure never to overlook him, suggesting they were going to give him a fair shot in 2017.

Actual role in 2017

2017 stats: 0 games: Placed on IR (concussion)
PFF Grade: N/A

James was placed on injured reserve after the first preseason game, ending his season before it started. Despite spending one and a half season with the Lions, James has yet to appear in a single regular season game donning the Honolulu Blue.

Outlook for 2018

Contract status: Unrestricted free agent

James is a free agent, and it’s hard to imagine him coming back in 2018. He could be brought back on a vet-minimum type of deal, but the Lions are likely looking to make drastic changes in the backfield. As Quinn mentioned back in January, the team is almost certainly going to add at least one running back to the team, and considering how deep James is already buried on the depth chart, he’ll have a tough time justifying another shot in Detroit.

Previously: DE Dwight Freeney, LB Tahir Whitehead , DE Ezekiel Ansah, S Tavon Wilson, CB Nevin Lawson, LS Don Muhlbach, LB Paul Worrilow, WR TJ Jones, TE Darren Fells, OT Greg Robinson, DT Jordan Hill, CB DJ Hayden, S Don Carey, LB Nick Bellore, G Don Barclay

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After winning their first NFC North title in 30 years, the Lions have unfinished business this offseason. Stay updated with Jeremy Reisman through Pride of Detroit Direct, our newsletter offering up exclusive analysis. Sign up with NFCNORTH30 to get 30% off after your free trial.