NFL rosters undergo a lot of shuffling in the lead up to cut down day, and teams willing to spend might be able to get dibs on some players.
The preseason trade is often unspectacular, but it can still play a vital role for a football team. Some teams have more depth that others, and that could mean a decent player or two getting waived as the roster is reduced to 53. Many teams opt to test their luck on the waiver wire, but if a team wants to be first in line for a player, they could offer some late-round picks or bubble players of their own.
The Lions have some recent history with preseason trades to mixed success. Last year, the lone trade made by the Lions was shipping corner Michael Jackson to the Patriots for a conditional 2022 seventh-round pick. In 2019, the Lions acquired quarterback David Blough from the Browns—having just played them in the preseason too—for a swap of seventh rounders. Blough went on to start five games for the Lions after injuries piled up ahead of him. That same year, tight end Michael Roberts was sent to the Patriots, but it was reverted after he failed his physical.
The years prior had a few names you might remember. Eli Harold was acquired from the 49ers in 2018, while Corey Robinson was dealt away. In 2017, the Lions gave up on Laken Tomlinson and traded him away for a fifth rounder—he has since turned his career around with the 49ers. In 2015, kicker Kyle Brindza had an impressive preseason, but the Lions already had Matt Prater, so he was traded to the Buccaneers.
With the free agent pool somewhat barren, trading for someone might be the next best move if the Lions want to improve their roster.
Today’s Question of the Day is:
Should the Lions make a preseason trade?
My answer: I believe they should and will. Unlike in previous years, where the Lions traded away players on the bubble, I think their focus needs to be on acquiring players.
The Lions depth isn’t great, and that limits the trade potential. David Blough or Tim Boyle are on the block if the Lions opt to keep just two quarterbacks—the Cowboys tried to poach Blough last year. Jahlani Tavai might garner interest from the Patriots with Matt Patricia back in their fold, but it seems more likely that they would try to get him on waivers if he is cut. Tyrell Crosby is the biggest trade asset for the Lions, but with him playing the key swing role, another team would have to give up a lot of make it worthwhile. That being said, the Lions have Matt Nelson behind him and Halapoulivaati Vaitai has experience at tackle, so he could be replaced if the price was right.
There are three positions I think the Lions could make a trade for: wide receiver, safety, and kicker.
For wide receiver, it is no surprise that the Lions could use an upgrade. The first team that comes to mind that is rich in receiver talent is the Buccaneers. Their wide receiver group is composed of Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Antonio Brown, Jaelon Darden, Scotty Miller, Tyler Johnson, and Jaydon Mickens (their kick returner)—that alone is seven wide receivers. I would be very interested in Tyler Johnson, and with plenty of teams likely interested too, pulling the trigger on a trade might be worth it. The Cowboys also have receiver depth, and the Lions could make a play for Cedric Wilson or Noah Brown.
Safety is up there as the weakest position group for the Lions. It’s a difficult trade group to project, however. Not only are more teams running three safety sets, but many safeties are prized for their special teams, much like the Lions are with C.J. Moore. As for trade candidates, the Lions could orchestrate another trade with the Rams. Despite losing John Johnson, the Rams have some excess talent at safety. Jordan Fuller is locked in, but Taylor Rapp and Terrell Burgess are fighting for that spot across from him. The loser of that battle will likely see action on defense anyway, but the Lions might shell out in order to get themselves a starter.
Finally comes the kickers, and boy, it is going to be different without Matt Prater. The kickers are standing out for the wrong reasons. Randy Bullock and Matthew Wright are competing for the starting role, but if their performances from Saturday’s scrimmage continue, they could both be on the outs.
Many teams carry two kickers in preseason even if they have an established veteran. If the young kicker plays well, it could earn them a spot on another team—this happened with Brindza in 2015. There are plenty of kicking battles worth watching. The Patriots (Nick Folk and Quinn Nordin), the Bengals (Evan McPherson and Austin Seibert), the Buccaneers (Ryan Succop and Jose Borregales), the Ravens (Jake Verity isn’t going to replace Justin Tucker), and the Colts (Rodrigo Blankenship and Eddy Piñeiro) should be of interest to the Lions, especially if Bullock and Wright struggle.
Will the Lions make a trade this August? If so, will they be buyers or sellers? Plenty of moves will be made as the regular season approaches.