Lions Rumors

Latest On Lions’ Slay, Harrison

The Lions are set to meet with agent Drew Rosenhaus to discuss the contracts of cornerback Darius Slay and defensive tackle Snacks Harrison, according to Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press. Both players skipped voluntary and mandatory work this offseason in an effort to secure new deals. 

It’s a tricky situation for the Lions – both players are under contract through 2020, so the team is likely fearful of setting a precedent of addressing contracts with two years remaining. Still, they have $23MM in cap space to work with and these are arguably the two most important players on the defensive side of the ball.

Slay is scheduled to make base salaries of $12MM this year and $10MM in 2020, with per-game roster bonuses totaling $250K each season. Harrison, meanwhile, is on the books for $6.75MM this year and $9MM next year. Both players forfeited workout bonuses of $250K by staying away from the team this offseason and incurred fines of ~$89K by skipping minicamp.

Harrison played in 17 games last season since he was traded before the Giants had their bye week but after the Lions already had their off week. A 2016 first-team All-Pro, Harrison had 81 tackles and 3.5 sacks in 2018.

Slay has spent his entire career with the Lions, and he’s earned Pro Bowl nods in each of the past two seasons. While his 2017 campaign was hard to match statistically, Slay had a solid 2018 with 43 tackles, 17 passes defended, and three interceptions in 15 games (15 starts). Pro Football Focus ranked Slay 23rd among 112 eligible cornerbacks.

Some veterans are scheduled to report to camp on Thursday with the full Lions team due for camp on Wednesday July 24.

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Release Candidate: Lions RB Theo Riddick

Calling Theo Riddick a running back is a bit misleading, as he’s really more of a pass-catcher than a ball-carrier. In three of his six seasons with the Lions, the 28-year-old Riddick has garnered more pass targets than rush attempts. He’s been a valuable asset in Detroit’s receiving game, but is he a lock to remain on the club’s roster in 2019?

The Lions’ run game has been a disaster for most of Matthew Stafford‘s tenure under center. Detroit famously went without a single-game 100-yard rusher from 2013 until September of 2018, when rookie Kerryon Johnson accomplished the feat against the Patriots. Johnson is expected to handle the majority of the Lions’ carries next season, although Detroit management has refrained from labeling him a “bellcow.” The Auburn product posted 641 rushing yards and three touchdowns on 118 attempts last year, but missed most of the second half of the campaign with a knee injury.

Detroit set out to add at least one more option to its backfield this offseason, and general manager Bob Quinn & Co. zeroed in on a pair of Rams alums. First, the Lions inked Los Angeles restricted free agent Malcolm Brown to a two-year, $3.3MM offer sheet, but the Rams ultimately matched those terms and retained the 26-year-old. The Lions looked elsewhere on the market and found fellow ex-Ram C.J. Anderson, signing the veteran to a one-year pact worth $1.5MM.

Johnson and Anderson are locks for the Detroit roster, so assuming the Lions keep four running backs, Riddick will compete with Zach Zenner and sixth-round rookie Ty Johnson for a roster spot. If the Lions feel as though they need a dedicated pass-catching back, Riddick should be safe. If not, or if Detroit thinks Kerryon Johnson will handle enough receiving work on his own, the Lions could retain the special teams skills of Zenner and take a flier on a minimum salary player like Ty Johnson.

Riddick’s contract — not his talent — is his true barrier to making the Lions’ roster. The Notre Dame product agreed to a three-year, $11.5MM extension with Detroit in 2016, and he’s set to count for $4.625MM on the team’s 2019 salary cap. If the Lions release Riddick, they’ll clear all but ~$963K of that total.

There’s an argument to be made that if the Lions wanted to cut Riddick, they would have already done so. But it’s also possible that Detroit will wait until the regular season is closer to part ways with Riddick. He’d have little leverage at that point, and could probably be pressured into accepting a pay cut (or simply re-signing with Detroit at a cheaper rate after being released).

Riddick can still be a valuable player as a pass-catcher, but it’s hard to see the Lions being comfortable with his near $5MM cap charge, especially given the projected workload of Johnson and Anderson. Therefore, Riddick could find himself on the free agent market later this summer.

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NFL Supplemental Draft Order

The NFL’s Supplemental Draft order does not go by the inverted win/loss records of clubs. Instead, the order is dictated by a weighted lottery that uses a team’s win percentage as just part of the equation. Here, via Tom Pelissero of NFL.com (Twitter link) is the complete order of the supplemental draft:

1. Lions
2. Broncos
3. Jets
4. Cardinals
5. Giants
6. Bills
7. Raiders
8. 49ers
9. Jaguars
10. Packers
11. Bengals
12. Bucs
13. Falcons
14. Vikings
15. Redskins
16. Titans
17. Dolphins
18. Steelers
19. Panthers
20. Browns
21. Ravens
22. Patriots
23.Cowboys
24. Seahawks
25. Eagles
26. Texans
27. Bears
28. Colts
29. Saints
30. Chiefs
31. Chargers
32. Rams

The supplemental draft is conducted via email. If multiple teams submit a pick for the same player in the same round, this order dictates which club gets the player. Of course, any team picking a player in the supplemental draft will sacrifice the corresponding pick in the 2020 draft.

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Release Candidate: Lions S Miles Killebrew

The February release (and subsequent retirement) of Glover Quin, in theory, should have put safety Miles Killebrew in line for an elevated role in 2019. But, instead of moving from the bench to the starting lineup, ESPN.com’s Michael Rothstein believes that he could be on the roster bubble. 

“Killa” has shown bursts of promise while providing valuable special teams help, but he has yet to make a major mark on defense. Even without Quin, the Lions have other safety options from which to choose, including Quandre Diggs, Tavon Wilson, third-round rookie Will Harris, and rising sophomore Tracy Walker.

Killebrew’s practice performance in the coming weeks may dictate his NFL future. There are a number of potential outcomes, ranging from a starting gig at free safety alongside Diggs to a release that could expose him to the waiver wire just prior to the start of the season. There’s also the in-between that could sting the player even more than getting cut – Killebrew could be relegated to a special teams/reserve role yet again as he enters the final year of his paltry rookie contract.

If Killebrew can’t break through this summer, his best outcome might be a release and an opportunity to flex his hard-hitting style elsewhere.

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Former Lions Safety Glover Quin Retires

Former Lions safety Glover Quin announced his retirement early Monday morning. At the age of 33, Quin has decided to move on to other endeavors. 

Playing professional sports was always a dream of mine. Football was the route I chose and God blessed me to be able to persevere through all the hardships and play 10 years in the NFL,” Quin wrote in a text message to ESPN’s Michael Rothstein. “I’m so thankful for the opportunity I had to play in the NFL with such great players and two great organizations.

Football was never who I was as a person. It was always what I had done. I wanted to use football as a stepping stone into the rest of my life and not let football be my life. I always only wanted to play 10 years. Said if I was able to walk off the field after the last game in Year 10, it would be really hard for me to walk back on. I’m young, I’m healthy and I got a lot of life to live. So I’m walking away from the game of football.”

The Lions released safety Glover Quin in February, but his run with Detroit could have ended much sooner. Quin actually asked the team to release him in the previous offseason, shortly after the team hired Matt Patricia However, the Lions obviously declined, and kept Quin for the 2018 campaign before cutting ties.

Quin started in all 16 of the Lions’ games in 2018, but saw some of his play time eaten into by rookie Tracy Walker down the stretch. Although his performance dipped near the end, he left the game with a 148-game starting streak, the highest of any active safety in the NFL up until his retirement.

The New Mexico product enjoyed the best season of his career in 2014 when he earned a Pro Bowl nod and registered seven interceptions. Over his decade in the NFL with the Texans and Lions, Quin recorded 24 interceptions and 740 tackles in total.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Marcus Simms Works Out For Teams

Former West Virginia wide receiver Marcus Simms worked out for half of the NFL’s teams on Monday, according to Tony Pauline of DraftAnalyst.com. The Jaguars, Saints, Seahawks, Colts, Jets, Redskins, Chiefs, Browns, Eagles, Lions, Packers, 49ers, Vikings, Ravens, Raiders, and Falcons.

[RELATED: The 2019 NFL Supplemental Draft, So Far]

The 49ers and Vikings both sent directors of scouting while the Ravens had their personnel director on hand. The Raiders, meanwhile, had general manager Mike Mayock on hand, which may be an indicator of strong interest.

Simms’ 40-yard-dash times of 4.49, 4.45 and 4.40 seconds were strong, while his 36 inch vertical showed decent hops for the position. While he’s not considered to be as strong of a pro prospect as Washington State safety Jalen Thompson, Simms has a chance at being selected when the NFL Supplemental Draft takes place later this month.

Marvin Jones Not Long For The Lions?

  • 2019 is going to be a very key season for Lions receiver Marvin Jones. After Detroit traded away Golden Tate, Jones was supposed to take over as the clear top receiver. Unfortunately, Jones’ season was ended in late November by a knee injury. According to Dake Birkett of the Detroit Free Press, there was some drama between Jones and the team after Jones criticized Matt Patricia’s policy of having injured players watch games from the press box on social media. Interestingly, Birkett writes that Jones “doesn’t seem long for a Patricia-coached team that has moved on from other players who aren’t yes-sir-I’ll-do-whatever-you-say types.” That being said, Birkett would be shocked if anything were to happen before the end of the season, as they’re counting on Jones to be a large part of the offense. Still it sounds like Jones, who didn’t participate in OTAs or minicamp due to his injury, might not be in the team’s longterm plans.

Lions Negotiating With Domata Peko

Free agent Domata Peko told TMZ Sports that he met with the Lions last week. The defensive tackle added that he “had a nice visit” in Detroit and that his agent is “trying to work some stuff out” for a contract. 

Peko also indicated that he would be interested in joining the Rams, though it’s not clear if that interest is being reciprocated.

I would like to be with Aaron Donald, man,” Peko says … “Hell yeah! That would be dope.”

Peko spent the first eleven years of his career with the Bengals before joining the Broncos on a two-year, $7.5MM deal in 2017. Over the past two seasons, Peko has only missed two games, racking up 44 tackles (eight for loss) during that time frame. In 2018, Pro Football Focus ranked Peko as the No. 39 interior defender among 112 qualifiers.

Peko wouldn’t necessarily start for the Lions, but he could be a solid rotational piece for the team’s defensive front. He’d also give the team some extra firepower as Trey Flowers continues to rehab from shoulder surgery and Damon Harrison stays away from the club amidst his contract dispute.

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Packers Claim TE Michael Roberts

Michael Roberts‘ complicated stretch continues. The tight end has now been traded, waived and claimed in a span of five days.

With the Lions waiving Roberts after their trade with the Patriots fell through, he may have an opportunity in Green Bay. The Packers claimed the third-year tight end off waivers Monday, Josh Alper of Pro Football Talk notes.

The Lions did not use an injury designation when waiving Roberts. He will join a more crowded tight end contingent with the Packers than he would have with the Patriots. Jimmy Graham, Lance Kendricks and third-round pick Jace Sternberger reside on Green Bay’s depth chart. The Packers also claimed tight end Pharoah McKever off waivers from the Jaguars recently.

Roberts, 25, has 13 career receptions for 146 yards. The Toledo alum, who caught three touchdown passes last season despite playing in just eight games, retains practice squad eligibility. Roberts suffered a shoulder injury that resulted in the former fourth-round pick finishing the 2018 season on IR.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Josh McCown Retires From NFL

After 17 years in the NFL, Josh McCown is calling it a career. On Monday, the longtime QB bid farewell to the game in a post on The Player’s Tribune

At the end of the day, no matter what team I was on, I tried to serve it to the best of my ability, and I tried to influence my team in a positive manner. I hope I did that,” McCown wrote. “And I made sure that when my number was called, I was prepared, and I gave it everything I had, every time. I may not have turned out to be the franchise quarterback I set out to be back at Cardinals rookie camp, but I’m extremely proud of the career I had.”

McCown didn’t become the face of the Cardinals as he had hoped, but he did enjoy nearly two decades in the NFL while spending time with ten different teams. His journey also included a pit stop in the UFL in 2010, a deal that almost didn’t come to pass when the Bears offered him a contract. Remarkably, McCown declined the opportunity in Chicago and stuck it out with the Hartford Colonials. He later said that the notion of bailing on the commitment “didn’t sit well” with him and he didn’t want to set a bad example for his children in which he would give his “word to somebody until something better comes along and then break that.”

McCown had some memorable moments on the field throughout his career, but he will largely be remembered for his high-character, intense work ethic, and willingness to help groom younger quarterbacks. After starting 13 games for the Jets in 2017, McCown put his ego aside and agreed to return to New York as a mentor for rookie Sam Darnold. Now, McCown will continue to put his football wisdom and knowledge to good use, either as a broadcaster or coach.

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