Detroit Lions running back D’Andre Swift is in the final year of his rookie contract, and considering his struggles to stay healthy and inconsistent play on the field, many believed 2023 could be his final year in Detroit. After the Lions selected Alabama running back Jahmyr Gibbs with the 12th overall pick, Swift’s journey in Detroit could come to an end even sooner than that.
Gibbs is everything the Lions have wanted out of Swift: a home-run hitter in the ground game with a ton of receiving skills that will allow the Lions to utilize him on all three downs.
Of course, there’s little harm in keeping both Swift and Gibbs around. Having depth at running back—a position that sees a high rate of injuries—is a good problem to have. And Swift will only cost the Lions $2.7 million against the salary cap this year.
However, after Day 1 of the NFL Draft, Lions general manager Brad Holmes talked to the media, and when asked about how this pick changes Swift’s future with the team, Holmes did not exactly give a vote of confidence for the fourth-year Georgia running back:
“I mean D’Andre is still on our roster,” Holmes said. “He’s still a part of our team, he’s still under contract with us. He’s a dynamic football player. So, it hasn’t really changed the math there yet, but it is early. So it didn’t really change we just kind of put Jahmyr in his own separate box and just got really excited about the player, didn’t really have any bearing of D’Andre.”
Sure, there is some protection of Swift there by Holmes, but the statement “it hasn’t really changed the math there yet, but it is early,” really speaks volumes—and when you watch the clip of him answering that question, there is not exactly a lot confidence in his voice.
The Lions could trade Swift, but one has to wonder what kind of return he would bring Detroit. Swift has struggled to stay healthy, only has one year remaining on his contract, and running back is considered to be a relatively low-value position. For comparison's sake, the Patriots got a fifth and sixth-round pick for Sony Michel in 2021. In other words, the Lions shouldn’t expect anything other than a late-round pick or two.
But that kind of return may be worth making a deal instead of carrying him on the roster for a year and getting nothing in return next offseason when Swift hits free agency.
There are still two days left in the NFL Draft, or as Brad Holmes put it, “it is early.”