Bob Quinn Says Lions Have Cornerstones At OL, DE, LB

It's a bold claim, in some respects. 

Will Burchfield
January 21, 2020 - 4:08 pm
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No GM-head coach tandem in the NFL will be under more pressure to win next season than Bob Quinn and Matt Patricia. They're both aware of the stakes. 

And so in an interview Monday at the Senior Bowl, Quinn was asked which cornerstones already on the roster can help the Lions turn things around in 2020.

"We feel good at a number of positions," Quinn told Late Hits on Sirius XM NFL Radio.

He pointed to both sides of the line. He also highlighted the linebackers. 

"Some of the corner pieces of our offensive line are in tact with our left tackle, our center and our right tackle," Quinn said. "Couple of free agents that are going to be up at the guard position that we have to evaluate. Some of the edge players we’re really happy with -- Trey Flowers, Romeo Okwara didn’t have a great statistical season but we feel about him playing behind Trey. And our linebacker crew is coming back in full health, so we’ll be ready to go there." 

At center the Lions have Frank Ragnow, who indeed looks like a franchise cornerstone. The best first-round pick of Quinn's tenure thus far, Ragnow excelled in 2019 in after a switch back from guard. He'll have a cap hit of $3.2 million in 2020. 

At left tackle they have Taylor Decker, a former first-round pick whose fifth-year option they picked up last offseason. He's been up-and-down since a standout rookie season in 2016, but the Lions appear to have faith in him moving forward. His cap hit climbs to $10.35 million in 2020. 

And then there's Rick Wagner at rick tackle, the least impressive of the three. Anyway you slice it, Wagner has failed to live up to the $47.5 million deal he signed in 2017. There's an out in his contract for 2020 that would save Detroit about $15 million over the next two years, but it sounds like they'll stick with him. He'll cost $11.9 million against the cap this year and next. 

It's a bold claim by Quinn, that both Decker and Wagner qualify as cornerstones. Meanwhile, the Lions have been oddly noncommittal toward Graham Glasgow, one of the free agents Quinn referenced at guard. Glasgow has been nothing but reliable through four seasons, but Detroit doesn't sound keen on paying him this winter. Fellow free agent Kenny Wiggins could emerge as his replacement in 2020. 

At linebacker, the Lions bring back the quartet of Devon Kennard, Jarrad Davis, Christian Jones and Jahlani Tavai in 2020. The latter three ended the season on injured reserve, but should be good to go for the start of training camp. As for which of those players, if any, can be deemed cornerstones, that's another question.

Flowers performed well in the first year of his $90 million deal. He started slow after offseason surgery, but delivered six sacks, sick tackles for loss and 18 QB hits over the final nine games. He was the one consistent difference-maker on the D-line over the second half of the season. 

Quinn did acknowledge "there’s going to be some positions that we have to totally redo," much like last year at tight end. That could include defensive tackle, where Mike Daniels and A'Shawn Robinson will be free agents and Damon Harrison could retire, and/or cornerback, where Darius Slay is a candidate to be traded and Rashaan Melvin is another free agent to be. The Lions have been linked frequently to DT Derrick Brown and CB Jeff Okudah with the third overall pick in the draft. 

But don't expect a change at quarterback -- not at the top, at least. While there's been some speculation the Lions could draft Tua Tagovailoa at No. 3, Quinn said he's "totally comfortable and happy that Matthew Stafford’s our quarterback." 

Stafford dealt with a serious back injury in 2019 for the second year in a row, but he and the Lions have no worries about his health for 2020. 

"He’s going to be in full health once the offseason program starts its course," Quinn said. "He’s pretty much at full health. Talked to him about 10 days ago, he was in the office. He’s feeling great, he’s in a good mindset. He’s excited. ... He’s going to come back strong when we’re ready to go for next year."