The Detroit Lions’ efforts to grab a cheap and effective backup running back appear to have failed. A few days ago, the Lions signed restricted free agent running back Malcolm Brown to a two-year, $3.25 million offer sheet, giving the Los Angeles Rams an option to either match the deal directly and keep Brown, or decline and allow the Lions to sign him.
According to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, the Rams have chosen the former and will retain the 25-year-old back:
Source: The #Rams are matching the two-year, $3.25M offer sheet for RFA RB Malcolm Brown, source said. They keep him, the #Lions will keep searching. He gets a $100K signing bonus and $1 million guaranteed.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) March 22, 2019
It’s a minor blow to the Lions’ offseason plan, as Brown was a promising young talent that certainly could have filled Detroit’s need for a No. 2 back behind Kerryon Johnson. At that price, he also would have likely come a lot cheaper than some other free agent options out there.
However, Detroit still has plenty of options available via free agency should they choose to find a solution that way. First and foremost is former Chiefs running back Spencer Ware, who visited with the team earlier this week. Ware may be a little more expensive for Detroit, seeing as his receiving and pass blocking skills potentially make him a three-down back, but he would certainly improve the current depth at running back.
Another course of action could be to take a running back in the upcoming NFL Draft. Though it’s not the best running back draft class, the Lions could do a lot worse than grabbing a middle-round tailback.
We’ll see which option the Lions pursue, but it’s pretty clear the Lions are looking to upgrade their current corps, which includes the aforementioned Johnson, Zach Zenner and Theo Riddick.