Detroit Lions general manager Bob Quinn and head coach Matt Patricia met with the media on Wednesday at the NFL Combine. Both touched on just about every topic you can think of, and we’ll have full coverage of the specifics as the week goes on.
But one of the most interesting parts of the 30-minute session was when Quinn addressed the Lions’ running back position—which many view as a primary need for the Lions. Quinn did not sound like a guy that was eager to replace 2017’s starter, Ameer Abdullah.
“I think he has three-down value,” Quinn said of the 24-year-old back. “He’s a guy that we like. He’s a smart guy. He’s a versatile guy. He can catch it out of the backfield. He can run the ball.”
Abdullah is entering the final year of his contract, and some think the Lions would do best to just cut ties now, whether it be through a trade or a release. Still sitting on his rookie contract, Abdullah isn’t costing the Lions much (2018 cap hit of $1.3 million). However, Detroit could save just over $1 million if they chose to cut ties.
But Quinn’s praising of Abdullah makes it sound like that isn’t anywhere in the current plans. Of course, that doesn’t mean that the Lions won’t be looking to add some help in the backfield. Back in January, Quinn said that he absolutely plans on adding a running back this offseason, and he hinted at that again on Wednesday.
“We’re going to have four to five running backs on the roster every year,” Quinn told reporters. Currently, the Lions have four already under contract: Abdullah, Theo Riddick, Tion Green and Dwayne Washington.
And while it’s not clear if Abdullah will be the lead back in 2018, Quinn was clear that he didn’t play at that level in 2017. “There’s about four or five lead or elite running backs in the league right now,” Quinn said. “You can probably name them on one hand. So does Ameer fit into that? He didn’t last year.”
Quinn obviously left the door open for Abdullah to assume that role in 2018, but with a draft class looming full of running back talent, there’s no guarantee that Abdullah will the Lions’ No. 1 back come September. Quinn made sure to point out that nothing will be handed to Abdullah and he’ll have to earn his spot like everyone else. “He has to have a good offseason and come back and prove himself to a new coaching staff.”