As teams kick off Organized Team Activities this week, several NFL players remain at home hoping to get another shot in 2021. Players like Richard Sherman, Sheldon Richardson and Geno Atkins are prime examples of talented players still available in free agency.
And now that teams are getting their first true look at the talent they have on the roster—and the June 1 cut designation coming up shortly—it’s quite possible that we see some of these players find a new home quickly.
ESPN’s Bill Barnwell made 15 player transaction predictions in light of this, and one involves our Detroit Lions.
Barnwell believes the Lions will sign former Chargers offensive guard Trai Turner to a one-year, $4.5 million deal.
On the surface, this makes a ton of sense. Lions offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn coached Turner last season, and Detroit could certainly use some experienced depth at the guard position. Behind projected starter Halapoulivaati Vaitai, the Lions have Drake Johnson, Tommy Kraemer, Logan Stenberg, and Evan Heim, who have combined for a total of zero starts and two games played.
“The Lions are starting over on offense, and we know how much coach Dan Campbell wants wrecking balls at the line of scrimmage,” Barnwell wrote. “Turner would step in at right guard and help solidify the line in front of new Detroit quarterback Jared Goff.”
Turner is coming off a down year that was marred by injuries, but prior to 2020, he made five straight Pro Bowls. A one-year, $4.5 million is a fairly low-risk move for the Lions, considering the Lions have over $21 million in cap space, more than all but three teams right now.
However, adding Turner would mean potentially unseating Vaitai at guard, and the Lions are still heavily invested in the veteran offensive lineman. Just last week, offensive line coach Hank Fraley threw his full support behind Vaitai.
“That guy can do a lot of things that people in this league can’t,” Fraley said. “He’s athletic, he’s big, moving the line scrimmage in this league is hard to do, you can pull him, you can anchor in pass protection. I’m excited for him. He’s played a lot of ball. He played a lot of ball in Philadelphia. I mean, he was the starting left tackle when they won the Super Bowl. He’s played a lot of ball, he’s experienced. And why couldn’t he be part of this puzzle?”
Would the Lions be okay pushing Vaitai to a backup role when he’s taking up $10.4 million in cap space? Would Turner come to Detroit knowing a starting job is not guaranteed at right guard?
It’s a slightly awkward fit for Detroit, but they could certainly use some depth there, and Turner would be a relatively low-cost solution. The Lions roster is already at its 90-player maximum, so a corresponding move would have to be made to fit Turner on the roster.