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2021 NFL trade deadline: Breaking down 8 Detroit Lions trade proposals

Jeremy and Erik discuss the latest trade proposals involving the Lions.

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Syndication: Detroit Free Press Junfu Han / USA TODAY NETWORK

The NFL trade deadline is fast approaching—November 2 at 4 p.m. ET—and as happens this time of year, there are plenty of suggestions on who teams should acquire/trade away.

So far in the month of October, there have been five trades across the league and none of them have drawn much compensation in return for a player, including nothing higher than a fifth-round pick. This is just the nature of the beast this time of year, starters are often traded for sixth-round draft picks.

In this exercise, Jeremy Reisman and Erik Schlitt will look at some of the most recent trade suggestions involving the Detroit Lions and share their opinions on if that trade makes sense for the organization.

Lions trade: EDGE Trey Flowers to the Chiefs

Terms of the trade: Lions receive a conditional fifth-round pick in 2023
Proposed by: CBS Sport’s Cody Benjamin
Supported by: NFL.com’s Gil Brandt, who believes Flowers should be on the trade block
Also: ESPN’s Eric Woodyard, but he admits: “The chances of this happening are slim.”

Erik: Flowers is the Lions’ best trade chip, and he is likely to draw the most return in a trade, but would the Lions be willing to move on from arguably their best defensive player? I think they may consider it for a couple of reasons.

First, Flowers’ contract is a nightmare for the Lions and it may be the biggest reason to consider trading him. This season he accounts for nearly $20 million, with over half of it already paid (because of the guaranteed salary and prorated bonus). Trading him would free up around $7 million right now, but he would still have an $11.2 cap hit coming in 2022. Now that is significantly lower than his $23.3 million cap hit scheduled for next season, and overall they would have gained $12 million in cap space.

Second, the Lions have two young EDGE rushers in Julian Okwara and Austin Bryant who are making strides in their development with playing time and this would provide them with an opportunity for more of it. Also, the team has already invested at the position with Romeo Okwara. Finally, Charles Harris has been an inexpensive option that the Lions could re-sign relatively cheap and he seems better suited to the scheme than Flowers.

Bottom line: I could see it happening. Do you think I’m off base, Jeremy?

Jeremy: I’m not thrilled about the idea of pushing more dead cap to 2022, but I think this is a move the Lions would still very much consider. Flowers is their most valuable piece that isn’t likely going to be a part of their future.

However, I don’t think this makes much sense from the Chiefs’ point of view. They have less than $2 million in free cap space right now—and they can’t really make moves to free up more space—so I’m not sure they could even fit Flowers’ contract. That’s not even taking into consideration Flowers’ huge base salaries of $16 million for each of the next two years. Plus the veteran edge defender is fighting through a knee injury that is clearly limiting him right now.

This makes sense from the Lions’ point of view, but the biggest challenge in trading Flowers is finding a partner who can fit his contract in their books. With everyone in the NFL cap strapped, I’m not sure the Lions would be able to realistically find anyone.

Lions trade: EDGE Charles Harris to the Chiefs

Terms of the trade: Lions receive sixth-round picks in 2022 and 2023
Proposed by: ESPN’s Bill Barnwell (subscription required)

Jeremy: I think this is my favorite of the bunch. While Charles Harris had a hot start to the season, tallying four sacks in four straight games, I don’t exactly view him as a long-term piece in Detroit. The Lions have done well getting the most out of the former first-round pick, and turning it into two sixth-round picks would be a big win. And if that means more playing time for Bryant and Okwara, even better!

My only question is: Would the Chiefs be willing to give up this much for Harris?

Erik: Getting two picks—even late-round ones—for a free agent you signed to a one-year deal would be a slick move by general manager Brad Holmes and a credit to the coaching staff for recognizing and extracting the best out of Harris.

I’d be on board with this move for several of the reasons I stated in the Flowers section—it’d free up more opportunities for the younger EDGE rushers to get on the field.

Lions trade: FS Tracy Walker to the Colts

Terms of the trade: “the Lions could get something for him now”
Proposed by: Bleacher Report’s Brent Sobleski

Erik: Nope. No. I don’t like it. I think Walker is more likely to get an extension from the Lions than he is to be traded. He is an ascending player who is just starting to grasp the scheme and is truly coming into his own. He’s a top-five safety in the league right now, for goodness sake. No, I hate the idea—go look somewhere else, Chris Ballard.

Jeremy: Tracy Walker seems legitimately happy here, and the Lions coaches seem very happy with his progress. In a secondary filled with question marks, Walker could be the one player the Lions can rely on for the future if they lock him up to a decent contract.

In order for me to make a trade like this, it would have to be for a second-round pick, and the Colts aren’t going to pay that for a player with half-a-season left on their contract. All that being said, Holmes has done a pretty darn good job finding safeties late in the draft, so maybe his hubris believes he can find a cheaper option next year?

Lions trade: DT Nick Williams to Chargers

Terms of the trade: Lions lose Williams and seventh-round pick, receive a sixth-round pick
Proposed by: PFF’s Brad Spielberger

Jeremy: I don’t hate this trade. Williams has played fairly well, and while the Lions wouldn’t be getting much in return, it is something. The biggest downside here is losing leadership. Just about everyone on that defensive line has pointed to Williams and Michael Brockers as essential leaders in that locker room. But at some point, this team is going to want to hand the reins to Levi Onwuzurike. Is it too early, though?

Erik: At this point, the rookies—Onwuzurike and Alim McNeill—are getting on the field in key moments, and while losing leadership would be a drawback, I again would embrace the opportunity for younger players to get more playing time down the back half of the season. I’d make that trade.

Jeremy: The other important point to make here is that the Lions have a bunch of young interior defenders waiting to play. Jashon Cornell (24 years old) has barely seen action since coming off the suspended list, while Da’Shawn Hand (25) and Kevin Strong (25) could come off of IR as soon as this week. The Lions have said time and time again that you can’t be afraid to play your youth. Well, this trade would open up that opportunity.

Lions trade: OT Taylor Decker to the Steelers

Terms of the trade: “Pittsburgh Steelers should do what it takes”
Proposed by: Bleacher Report’s Brent Sobleski

Jeremy: Ah yes, the Taylor Decker trade that has been pitched the minute Penei Sewell shut down Nick Bosa in the season opener. For this exercise, I guess we should pretend everything is fine with his finger, even though there is very much a non-zero chance he remains on IR for the rest of the season.

I think trading one of your best players is a pretty stupid idea—especially before you even get a chance to see what an offensive line with both Decker and Sewell looks like—but everyone has a price, right? What’s yours, Erik?

Erik: Probably a second-round pick, which is way more than the going rate this time of the year. I’m with you Jeremy, I don’t like the idea of trading one of your best players and creating another significant hole on the roster.

Lions acquire: WR N’Keal Harry from the Patriots

Terms of the trade: No compensation was suggested
Proposed by: Bleacher Report’s Brent Sobleski

Erik: I didn’t like this trade proposal before the season and I still don’t like it now, despite the deficiencies at wide receiver. I just don’t view Harry as a potential WR1—or even WR3—and if he was, believe me, the Patriots wouldn’t be trading him. Stylistically, he doesn’t fit and the chirping for more targets seems like it would be a problem for this staff.

Jeremy: With you 100 percent here. Don’t like Harry as a trade option or even a waiver claim option. I know there have been rumors that the Lions are searching for receivers right now, but after swinging and missing with Trinity Benson, I’m not so sure the Lions are going to give it another shot. You’ve made this bed, time to just lie in it.

Lions acquire: QB Tua Tagovailoa from the Dolphins

Terms of the trade: No compensation was suggested
Proposed by: CBS Sport’s Cody Benjamin

Jeremy: Alright, let’s break down everything wrong with this trade.

  • The Dolphins are committed to Tagovailoa
  • Tagovailoa hasn’t been particularly good thus far
  • Trading for Tagovailoa ends the Jared Goff era just a half-season in, and you’re still stuck with his contract.
  • You’d be trading away draft resources that you could just spend on your own quarterback in the draft, either this year or next.

I get that this trade is being proposed with the idea that Miami gets Deshaun Watson, but I’m not buying any of that talk. This trade is unrealistic and doesn’t make sense for the Lions, unless the price is anything less than a second-round pick, which it won’t be.

Erik: I agree that I don't think this is a realistic scenario. On paper, it sounds promising but as Jeremy said, the asking price is likely to be way too high, and the Lions don't even have the cap space for his contract.

Now, if the Dolphins were willing to take a player that fit their scheme like a glove, and would help the Lions free up some cap space, I think they might be interested.

Trey Flowers for Tua, straight up?

Jeremy: While I love it, the Dolphins can’t afford Flowers, either, especially if they’re theoretically taking on Watson’s contract.

Lions acquire: CB Noah Igbinoghene from the Dolphins

Terms of the trade: Detroit sends a seventh-round pick to Miami
Proposed by: Ben Solak of The Ringer

Erik: Ok, last one. How about this more realistic trade with the Dolphins?

Igbinoghene is a former first-round pick (2020) but hasn’t been able to break into the Dolphins’ CB rotation. Even though he is just 5-foot-10, 200 pounds, he’s an outside corner who is physical in press coverage and on special teams. He’s a super athlete—both his parents were Olympians from Nigeria (so immediate culture fit)—and someone defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn and defensive back coach Aubrey Pleasant could potentially mold into a player. He’s not going to immediately jump ahead of Jerry Jacobs for a starting role, but more of a long-term project with high upside.

Jeremy: I lied. This is my favorite one. While the Lions shouldn’t consider themselves buyers for obvious reasons, this is the kind of low-risk, high-reward move they should consider. Igbinoghene has already fallen out of favor in Miami, and pairing Pleasant with a highly-athletic, 21-year-old corner seems like a match made in heaven. The Lions’ future at cornerback is unknown, so why not add more competition to the mix for 2022 and beyond? Hard to imagine a seventh-round pick getting you better value than Igbinoghene.