Detroit Lions Off to Bad Start with Free Agent Negotiations
Today marks the day that the Detroit Lions are able to begin negotiating with potential free agents. The Lions had been rumored to be interested in meeting with and signing recently released cornerback Richard Sherman, however, Sherman ended up signing a 3-year $39 million contract with the San Francisco 49ers the day before he was scheduled to meet with Lions executives in Allen Park.
With Sherman out of the picture, the Lions brought in recently released running backs Jonathan Stewart and DeMarco Murray for interviews in Allen Park today. This being said the Lions have started off free agent prospective talks poorly. Stewart and Murray will be 31 and 30 years old respectively when the season begins. Once again the Lions are looking to add players beyond their prime.
Jonathan Stewart was released by the Carolina Panthers back in February. The veteran running back has had a productive career; however, he is now at the later stages of his career and no longer a 3-down back in my mind. Stewart has 1699 career carries and is at the age that running backs begin to fall off. Looking at his last four seasons Stewart’s yards per carry has steady declined from 4.6 YPC in 2014 to 3.4 YAC in 2017. On top of the declining yards per carry Stewart has only ever had one 1000 yard season and that was back in 2009, his second season in the league when he rushed for 1133 yards.
Now looking at DeMarco Murray, yes, he is an intriguing player; however, Murray is also at a point in his career where he has more than 1600 career carries. Similar to Stewart, Murray has taken a physical beating over his seven-year career. The significant difference between Stewart and Murray is that Murray can be a threat out of the backfield. Murray has put together three 1000+ yard seasons (one of which was 1800+) and has had four seasons of 40+ receptions.
I like the fact that Bob Quinn and Lions management is looking to add a running back to the roster. Unfortunately, I do not think that either of these RBs is the appropriate choices for the Lions at this time. Both players are nearing the point of their career where they will begin the fall due to age as well as number of carries. Instead of testing the free agent market and signing a running back to the roster, I believe Quinn should use the teams 2nd round pick in the upcoming draft to add said running back. When it comes to signing a free agent the Lions will likely have to take a decent hit to their salary cap space rather than being able to sign a rookie contract with a second rounder out of this deep running back class in the 2018 draft.
If I were Bob Quinn the only way that I would sign one of these two running backs is if I could get them at a steal. I could see either of them coming to Detroit as a 3rd down back on a 1-year or 2-year deal in the area of $2-$2.5 million a year.