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Notes: Should the Detroit Lions trade for Minkah Fitzpatrick?

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Acquire ALL the safeties!

NFL: Miami Dolphins at Minnesota Vikings Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

It looks like the early reporting by Profootballtalk that some Miami Dolphins players are trying to get out of town is at least partially true, despite denials by the team. One player confirmed to be seeking a trade is 2018 first-round pick defensive back (he is really able to line up anywhere even if that is not what you want to do with him) Minkah Fitzpatrick.

Several of our own Pride of Detroit staff think the Lions should at least inquire about this rare talent. People already know how good Fitzpatrick is, but what kind of contract would Detroit get back? Here’s the thing—the safety/cornerback/defensive monster/whatever is on the second year of his rookie deal and a trade would keep all of the bonus hit on Miami’s books. That puts the cap hit in the early years (2019, 2020, and 2021) remaining on the rookie deal at merely the P5 salary for those years: $1.23m, 1.98m, and 2.72m, respectively.

Now, in 2022, the team with the contract rights can exercise a fifth-year option to retain Fitzpatrick’s services. For a rough idea of where that lands, we can use the most current fifth-year option tables for rookies who had been drafted in 2016 as a guide. Should Fitzpatrick be classified as a safety, a fifth-year option for a safety drafted at spot 11 in 2016 would have been priced at $6.47m for the 2020 season. Why is it so cheap? The answer is that the top 10 picks are on a different tier of pricing, and by being picked 11th, the youngster is in the “cheaper” tier.

Even if the Lions gave him a definite role as a cornerback, which resulted in him being reclassified as a cornerback for salary purposes, it is still not that bad. A cornerback selected 11th in 2016 would have been priced at $9.95m for the 2020 season. I think if a player is performing at a high level (very likely for Minkah Fitzpatrick) as a cornerback, that is certainly reasonable.

Therefore, if we want to evaluate what the Lions “get in return” should they trade for Fitzpatrick, it is really a reasonable deal for four years, not three years. It is very difficult to guarantee selecting a stud defensive back in the first or second round of the draft, so this is a good deal (outstanding if just a second-round pick is the price).

And now, on to the rest of today’s Notes:

  • I’m just going to leave this here:

  • Hall of Fame candidates have been announced, and the Lions have three notable names in the mix:
  • Several Lions players have fun family ties to the San Diego area. From the official Lions PR account, Marvin Jones Jr. and Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers have kids on the same flag football team (and the two pros pitch in as coaches). Dave Birkett at the Detroit Free Press wrote about safety Quandre Diggs’ memories of being a Chargers fan when he was younger and watching his older brother Quentin Jammer.

  • As part of the NFL 100 celebration, some well-known folks were asked about their fandom and the moments that made them pro football fans. Two of the interviews revealed in the previews for the show (airing Friday night on NFL Network) were Detroit Lions fans Ninja and Keegan-Michael Key:

  • No specific names given, but might be worth checking out if you are already going to be at the game:

  • Rough week for Lions practice squad running backs. Both Nick Brossette and David Williams lasted a single day on the practice squad, as the Lions have now brought back defensive end Eric Lee: