The Detroit Lions’ offseason kicked off with a flurry of free agency moves that got the fanbase extremely excited. After the marquee signings of Trey Flowers, Justin Coleman and Jesse James, Lions general manager Bob Quinn had an approval rating of 90 percent among fans.
The 2019 NFL Draft was a different beast, however. Detroit made some unconventional picks with yet another tight end in the top 10 and a second-round pick that had many scratching their head.
Overall, however, most were pleased with the Lions’ offseason. Detroit even got some national praise. ESPN’s Mike Clay called the Lions the most improved team this offseason. And NFL legend Gil Brandt said Detroit had a top-five offseason.
But not everyone at ESPN is in agreement with Clay. Senior writer Mike Sando handed out his offseason grades for all 32 teams (Insider required), and it appears he wasn’t a big fan of Detroit’s moves. He gave the Lions a C, which may not seem all that bad, but there were only two teams who graded lower than Detroit: the New York Giants (D) and the New York Jets (D-).
Sando doesn’t provide any commentary of his own, but rather uses opinions from NFL executives, evaluators and coaches. One actually seemed very positive about Detroit’s aggressive offseason.
“They are better, definitely,” an exec said. “Flowers is a really good player. Coleman is a really good nickel. They signed so many guys that I can’t even remember them all. They are going all-in.”
However, another thinks the Detroit Lions made a mistake not moving on from Matthew Stafford.
“They took a 4.7 [in the 40-yard dash] tight end with the eighth overall pick when they could have taken a quarterback,” one of the dissenters said. “I personally think it’s time to move on from [Matthew] Stafford. It is the same thing year after year. He’s not a bad guy, but he’s had so many coordinators and quarterback coaches, it’s a smorgasbord. Can you really cook something or do you keep making grilled cheese?”
There are a lot of criticisms one could make about the Lions’ offseason. For example, you could make the argument they overpaid for some free agents, they failed to properly address their offensive line this year, and the Jahlani Tavai draft pick was certainly a risk.
But to say the Lions should have moved on from Stafford makes very little sense financially. Considering two quarterbacks were already off the board when the Lions were on the clock in a draft class widely perceived as weak at the quarterback position, i’m not exactly sure what this dissenter was expecting.
Then the anonymous source throws weird shade at T.J. Hockenson by calling him “a 4.7 tight end”—when a 4.7 40-yard dash is more than acceptable for a man his size. It’s a lazy criticism for a player whose value goes well beyond straight-line speed. Also, grilled cheese is awesome. Step off.
While I think it’s important for Lions fans to see some dissenting opinions, especially this time of year when Kool-Aid is in surplus, it’s a shame NFL insiders couldn’t come up with a better argument than the one provided in this ESPN piece.