On Monday, we saw the first major move ahead of Tuesday’s NFL trade deadline. The Los Angeles Rams did what they do and threw away a couple of Day 2 draft picks for edge defender Von Miller in the hopes of securing the NFC West and continuing their potential Super Bowl run this year.
The Detroit Lions are nowhere near the position to make an aggressive move like that, seeing as they’re a winless team eight weeks into the season. But with a talent-depleted roster desperate for players at wide receiver and cornerback, a small move could make some logical sense. Or perhaps it makes more sense for the Lions to be sellers. With the future in mind, shipping off short-term players for long-term draft picks would fit more to what this team is building. But do the Lions have any pieces worth parting for any valuable draft picks?
Today’s Question of the Day is:
Should the Detroit Lions make a trade at the deadline?
My answer: No.
Adding assets right now makes little sense for Detroit. Though they desperately need a wide receiver, there’s little sense in trading future assets for a potential short-term fill-in. This team is in no position to be selling their future for the present. While avoiding 0-17 should be considered a priority for a team rebuilding a culture, it should not be considered the top priority. Detroit should simply try to make due with the guys they have—and if they want to add new talent, continue to scour the waiver wire and free agents.
As to trading off assets, I don’t think that’s particularly worth it, either. For one, I don’t think the Lions have any assets that are really worth trading. Trey Flowers has too big of a contract for cap-strapped teams to acquire, not to mention he’s fighting off an injury. Guys like Nick Williams and Michael Brockers—who won’t be a part of this team’s future—won’t bring back much, if anything, in return. Taylor Decker is injured, and he’s the exact kind of player you’d like to build around. Tracy Walker could be the most tradable asset the Lions have—he’s playing good football, he’s young and on the last year of his contract—but he’s also a young player performing at a high level in the secondary... that’s exactly what the Lions need!
Philosophically, I don’t think it makes sense to trade away a veteran player right now, either. Head coach Dan Campbell said something very interesting on Monday regarding the challenge this team faces in keeping the culture positive right now.
“I can’t say that I see anything negative right now. I feel like these guys are still coming in, they’re still coming to work, but we are very young and they can be influenced one way or another if we’re not careful. And that’s why you want the right guys around them, which I think we’ve got the right vets around them.”
This team is facing a ton of adversity right now. It sucks to go 0-8. It sucks to answer questions about going 0-17. It sucks to see your hard work for months and months not pay off in the win column. And with the age of this team, it could be very easy for some of these players—who have never experienced this much losing—to give up. These players are at a pivotal moment in their careers, and if they’re influenced the wrong way, the rest of their careers could be put on the wrong trajectory.
That’s why the Lions brought in Michael Brockers, whose first five years in the NFL were losing seasons with the Rams. That’s why they kept around Nick Williams, who didn’t earn his first career NFL start until his sixth professional season. These players know what it’s like to fight through adversity and have seen the positive results of perseverance.
Those players are needed right now more than they ever have been needed. Their experience going through adversity is quite possibly one of the most valuable things this franchise could have inside the locker room right now.
The best case scenario is keeping these veterans around in leadership roles, while slowly scaling back their roles on the field in favor of the younger players. And if you look at the snap counts from this week, that’s exactly what they’re doing.