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Lions-49ers Eli Harold trade: What it means for Detroit’s roster

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The Harold trade could send shockwaves down the Lions’ defensive roster.

San Francisco 49ers v Denver Broncos Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

The Detroit Lions made a pretty significant move on Thursday, trading for 49ers linebacker Eli Harold. With just over two weeks left to solidify their roster, the move has drastically changed the landscape of the Lions’ depth chart.

While Harold is not necessarily a lock to make the final roster, considering he was a potential starter in San Francisco, it’s fair to assume he’ll immediately jump ahead of a few players and bump some defenders into the roster bubble or off the roster completely.


Let’s start with the edge, since Harold’s versatility there will likely make him an asset where the Lions may be the weakest. Though I doubt Devon Kennard’s starting job is in danger, Harold could very well be the team’s Kennard 2.0.

That could spell trouble for a couple of edge guys in the rotation. Namely, both 2017 undrafted free agents Jeremiah Valoaga and Alex Barrett. Valoaga has been a consensus “IN” for our weekly Bubble Watch, but Barrett’s spot has been much more uncertain. Adding a guy like Harold could spell doom for Barrett, but the young defender does still have practice squad eligibility.


Harold doesn’t necessarily bring the solid coverage the Lions may be seeking from this unit, so it’s unlikely that Jalen Reeves-Maybin or Miles Killebrew will be affected much by this move. I think Christian Jones and Jonathan Freeny are also likely still safe.

However, this makes it a lot more unlikely for an underdog like Chad Meredith, Trevor Bates or Freddie Bishop to make the 53. At 6-foot-3, 257 pounds Harold is built almost exactly like these three players, and we’ve seen each play a little on the edge, as well. Bishop, specifically, was just climbing the ranks after some impressive performances in training camp and the preseason, but this move could really hurt his chances to make the roster. Bishop, too, has practice squad eligibility, so he could still stick around if he doesn’t make the 53.