Lions Rumors

Reggie Wayne Rebuffed Lions In 2015

Reggie Wayne retired after 14 seasons four years ago, and while he only played regular-season games with the Colts, the decorated wideout was a Patriot briefly. However, the Lions showed interest in adding him in that 2015 offseason as well. Wayne was not interested, citing the Lions’ insistence he work out for them as a reason he sidestepped them en route to New England.

I said, ‘Work out? You the Detroit Lions. Wait. Work out? I’m good,'” Wayne said during an appearance on NFL Network anchor Dan Hellie’s Helliepod podcast (via the Detroit Free Press). “Like, I can give you — I got 14 years of working out that you can see,” Wayne said. “So I was like, ‘Nah, I’m cool.’”

Then coached by former Colts HC Jim Caldwell, the Lions employed Calvin Johnson and Golden Tate as their starters at that point. Wayne did end up working out for the Patriots but cited Bill Belichick‘s success as a reason he agreed to audition for the Pats. Wayne’s Patriots tenure ended up lasting barely 10 days, with the then-36-year-old wideout asking to be released before the start of the 2015 season. Wayne added during the interview the Pats let him keep a $450K signing bonus he received.

No Major Talks Between Lions, Taylor Decker

Taylor Decker has one year to go on his contract, but he hasn’t gotten down to brass tacks with the Lions just yet (Twitter link via Tim Twentyman of the team website). There haven’t been any serious discussions on a new deal, though Decker says he’s gotten good feedback from the team on the whole.

[RELATED: Lions To Move Jamal Agnew To WR]

The Lions exercised Decker’s fifth-year option last year, keeping him under contract for $10.35MM for the 2020 season. Even though he says he’s willing to stay patient, he did make a representation change earlier this year, joining up with AMDG Sports, a firm dedicated exclusively to offensive linemen. The group is managed by LeCharles Bentley, who also tutors Decker at his performance center.

Decker lacked consistency in his first three seasons, but he turned a major corner last year. He allowed just seven sacks in 2019, graded out as one of Pro Football Focus’ top five tackles in the NFL, and only improved as the year wore on. For comparison, Decker graded as PFF’s No. 36 tackle in 2018.

In addition to Decker, the Lions will have to leave room for other post-2020 extensions, including wide receiver Kenny Golladay.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Lions To Move Jamal Agnew To WR

When the Lions reconvene, they will add an interesting player to their wide receiver corps. Jamal Agnew will fully transition from cornerback to wideout this year, Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press notes.

Known mostly for his work as a return man, Agnew began sitting in on wide receiver meetings last season and has been involved in virtual wideout and cornerback meetings this offseason. When the Lions gather for training camp, the plan is for Agnew to work exclusively at receiver.

Picked in the fifth round out of San Diego in 2017, Agnew is entering a contract year. He has four return touchdowns and secured first-team All-Pro honors as a punt returner as a rookie. Agnew played cornerback with the Toreros in college.

For his NFL career, Agnew has seen spot duty on offense. He has four career carries and three career catches. The versatile 25-year-old talent played 16 offensive snaps last season. That number could well increase this year, though Birkett adds that the fourth-year performer will enter training camp on the roster bubble.

The Lions return their top four wideouts — Kenny Golladay, Marvin Jones, Danny Amendola and Marvin Hall — and drafted Quintez Cephus in Round 5. Detroit also drafted running back Jason Huntley, who is expected to compete with Agnew for return work. Agnew has served as the Lions’ primary kick and punt returner since 2017.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Longest-Tenured GMs In The NFL

When we ran down the longest-tenured head coaches in the NFL, we found that less than half of the league’s current coaches have been in their positions for more than three years. That’s not quite the case with general managers, but there have been plenty of changes in recent years.

A handful of general managers have gotten to take their coats off and stay for a long while. Among coaches, Bill Belichick had joined his team prior to 2003. Here, you’ll see that five GMs have been with their teams since before ’03 (Belichick, of course, is also on this list). Two of those five – Jerry Jones and Mike Brown – are outliers, since they’re team owners and serve as de facto GMs. But the Patriots, Steelers, and Saints, have all had the same general managers making their roster decisions for well over a decade.

Here’s the complete list of the NFL’s longest-tenured GMs, along with the date they took over the job:

  1. Jerry Jones (Dallas Cowboys): April 18, 1989[1]
  2. Mike Brown (Cincinnati Bengals): August 5, 1991[2]
  3. Bill Belichick (New England Patriots): January 27, 2000[3]
  4. Kevin Colbert (Pittsburgh Steelers): February 18, 2000[4]
  5. Mickey Loomis (New Orleans Saints): May 14, 2002
  6. Rick Spielman (Minnesota Vikings): May 30, 2006[5]
  7. Thomas Dimitroff (Atlanta Falcons): January 13, 2008
  8. John Schneider (Seattle Seahawks): January 19, 2010[6]
  9. Howie Roseman (Philadelphia Eagles): January 29, 2010
  10. John Elway (Denver Broncos): January 5, 2011[7]
  11. Les Snead (St. Louis Rams): February 10, 2012
  12. David Caldwell (Jacksonville Jaguars): January 8, 2013
  13. Steve Keim (Arizona Cardinals): January 8, 2013
  14. Tom Telesco (San Diego Chargers): January 9, 2013
  15. Jason Licht (Tampa Bay Buccaneers): January 21, 2014
  16. Ryan Pace (Chicago Bears): January 8, 2015
  17. Chris Grier (Miami Dolphins): January 4, 2016
  18. Bob Quinn (Detroit Lions): January 8, 2016
  19. Jon Robinson (Tennessee Titans): January 14, 2016
  20. John Lynch (San Francisco 49ers): January 29, 2017
  21. Chris Ballard (Indianapolis Colts): January 30, 2017
  22. Brandon Beane (Buffalo Bills): May 9, 2017
  23. Brett Veach (Kansas City Chiefs): July 11, 2017
  24. Marty Hurney (Carolina Panthers): July 19, 2017
  25. Dave Gettleman (New York Giants): December 28, 2017
  26. Brian Gutekunst (Green Bay Packers): January 7, 2018
  27. Mike Mayock (Oakland Raiders): December 31, 2018
  28. Joe Douglas (New York Jets): June 7, 2019
  29. Eric DeCosta (Baltimore Ravens): January 7, 2019[8]
  30. Ron Rivera (Washington Redskins): January 1, 2020[9]
  31. Andrew Berry (Cleveland Browns): January 27, 2020
  32. Bill O’Brien (Houston Texans): January 28, 2020

Footnotes:

  1. Jones has been the Cowboys’ de facto general manager since former GM Tex Schramm resigned in April 1989.
  2. Brown has been the Bengals’ de facto GM since taking over as the team’s owner in August 1991.
  3. Belichick has been the Patriots’ de facto GM since shortly after being hired as the team’s head coach in January 2000.
  4. Colbert was initially hired as the team’s director of football operations and received the newly-created general manager title in 2011.
  5. Spielman was initially hired as the team’s VP of player personnel and received the GM title in 2012.
  6. While Schneider holds the title of GM, head coach Pete Carroll has the final say on roster moves for the Seahawks.
  7. Elway was initially hired as the team’s executive VP of football operations and received the GM title in 2014.
  8. In 2018, the Ravens announced that DeCosta would replace Ozzie Newsome as GM for Ozzie Newsome after the conclusion of the season. The Ravens’ ’18 season ended with their Wild Card loss to the Chargers on 1/6/19.
  9. Technically, the Redskins do not have a GM, as of this writing. Rivera is, effectively, their GM, working in tandem with Vice President of Player Personnel Kyle Smith. Smith may receive the GM title in the near future.

NFL Draft Signings: 5/18/20

We’ll keep track of today’s later round draft signings here:

  • The Lions agreed to terms with sixth-round defensive tackle John Penisini, according to agent David Canter (Twitter link). Penisini specializes in stopping the run, though he did tally a handful of sacks from the interior while at Utah. Now, he’ll look to make the 53-man roster cut as a supporting cast member behind projected starters Danny Shelton and John Atkins.

NFL Draft Signings: 5/17/20

We’ll keep track of today’s draft signings here:

  • The Lions announced the signing of fourth-round guard Logan Stenberg. The Kentucky product made 39 consecutive starts in college, finished with first-team All-SEC honors, and did not allow a single sack in 2019. With Detroit, he’ll be a part of the rotation on the interior, though he’ll also have to vie with fellow rookie Jonah Jackson, a third-round pick. For now, the Lions project to lead with some combination of veterans Oday Aboushi, Joe Dahl, and Kenny Wiggins.

NFC Notes: Seahawks, Dunbar, Lions, Davis

Seahawks cornerback Quinton Dunbar surrendered to police, hours after his alleged accomplice Deandre Baker did the same on Saturday. Dunbar’s attorney Michael Grieco shared the news on Instagram and, just like Baker’s attorney, he vehemently denied the accusations against his client.

As I write this an innocent man sits in jail, facing charges that hold no water,” Grieco wrote. “His career and reputation have been put in jeopardy as a result of an overzealous [Miramar, Florida police department] that was so excited about arresting a pro football player that they tweeted out their celebration and even tagged his employer in their virtual touchdown dance…When this case gets dropped ,I wonder if the Miramar cops will be tweeting out their apology too.”

Dunbar is facing four felony counts of armed robbery with a firearm. Regardless of the legal outcome, he could be in for a world of trouble with Roger Goodell & Co.

Here’s more from the NFC:

  • The Seahawks addressed their need for a veteran backup quarterback by re-signing Geno Smith on Thursday, but there’s still more mid-offseason work to be done. In addition to their obvious need for edge rushing help, they could still use some experience at running back, plus a run-stuffing defensive tackle to help replace the void left by Al Woods‘ departure, Brady Henderson of ESPN.com tweets.
  • Even though the Lions turned down Jarrad Davis‘ option for 2021, the linebacker says that he’s more motivated than ever to perform. “I’m here to win games and to go out and compete each and every day,” Davis said (via Benjamin Raven of MLive.com). “We’ve got a lot of guys in the room right now that are going to breathe a lot of competition at our linebacker position and make us a better defense. I’m really excited just to get back to work. Fifth-year option situation, it is what it is.” This year, Davis will look to restore his value and cash in as a free agent in 2021. The former first-round pick hasn’t lived up to expectations so far, but new Lions ‘backers Jamie Collins and Reggie Ragland should help to take some of the pressure off.
  • On Friday, the Saints added running back Ty Montgomery to their stable. Montgomery showed tremendous promise with the Packers in 2016, when he averaged 5.9 yards per carry. He could shine once again in a smaller role with the Saints, playing behind Alvin Kamara and Latavius Murray.

Longest-Tenured Head Coaches In The NFL

Things move fast in today’s NFL and the old adage of “coaches are hired to be fired” has seemingly never been more true. For the most part, teams change their coaches like they change their underwear. 

A head coach can take his team to the Super Bowl, or win the Super Bowl, or win multiple Super Bowls, but they’re never immune to scrutiny. Just ask Tom Coughlin, who captured his second ring with the Giants after the 2011 season, only to receive his pink slip after the 2015 campaign.

There are also exceptions. Just look at Bill Belichick, who just wrapped up his 20th season at the helm in New England. You’ll also see a few others on this list, but, for the most part, most of today’s NFL head coaches are relatively new to their respective clubs. And, history dictates that many of them will be elsewhere when we check in on this list in 2022.

Over one-third (12) of the NFL’s head coaches have coached no more than one season with their respective teams. Meanwhile, less than half (15) have been with their current clubs for more than three years. It seems like just yesterday that the Cardinals hired Kliff Kingsbury, right? It sort of was – Kingsbury signed on with the Cardinals in January of 2019. Today, he’s practically a veteran.

Here’s the list of the current head coaches in the NFL, ordered by tenure, along with their respective start dates:

  1. Bill Belichick (New England Patriots): January 27, 2000
  2. Sean Payton (New Orleans Saints): January 18, 2006
  3. Mike Tomlin (Pittsburgh Steelers): January 27, 2007
  4. John Harbaugh (Baltimore Ravens): January 19, 2008
  5. Pete Carroll (Seattle Seahawks): January 9, 2010
  6. Andy Reid (Kansas City Chiefs): January 4, 2013
  7. Bill O’Brien (Houston Texans): January 2, 2014
  8. Mike Zimmer (Minnesota Vikings): January 15, 2014
  9. Dan Quinn (Atlanta Falcons): February 2, 2015
  10. Doug Pederson (Philadelphia Eagles): January 18, 2016
  11. Sean McDermott (Buffalo Bills): January 11, 2017
  12. Doug Marrone (Jacksonville Jaguars): December 19, 2016 (interim; permanent since 2017)
  13. Anthony Lynn (Los Angeles Chargers): January 12, 2017
  14. Sean McVay (Los Angeles Rams): January 12, 2017
  15. Kyle Shanahan (San Francisco 49ers): February 6, 2017
  16. Matt Nagy (Chicago Bears): January 7, 2018
  17. Matt Patricia (Detroit Lions): February 5, 2018
  18. Frank Reich (Indianapolis Colts): February 11, 2018
  19. Jon Gruden (Las Vegas Raiders): January 6, 2018
  20. Mike Vrabel (Tennessee Titans): January 20, 2018
  21. Kliff Kingsbury (Arizona Cardinals): January 8, 2019
  22. Zac Taylor (Cincinnati Bengals): February 4, 2019
  23. Vic Fangio (Denver Broncos): January 10, 2019
  24. Matt LaFleur (Green Bay Packers): January 8, 2019
  25. Brian Flores (Miami Dolphins): February 4, 2019
  26. Adam Gase (New York Jets): January 11, 2019
  27. Bruce Arians (Tampa Bay Buccaneers): January 8, 2019
  28. Ron Rivera (Washington Redskins): January 1, 2020
  29. Matt Rhule (Carolina Panthers): January 7, 2020
  30. Mike McCarthy (Dallas Cowboys): January 7, 2020
  31. Joe Judge (New York Giants): January 8, 2020
  32. Kevin Stefanski (Cleveland Browns): January 13, 2020

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Lions’ Matthew Stafford Says He’s Staying

The Lions checked in with Justin Herbert and Tua Tagovailoa before the draft, fueling some speculation about Matthew Stafford‘s future. Meanwhile, the Staffords have put their Detroit-area home up for sale. This week, the quarterback and his wife shot down any talk of a job-related relocation.

[RELATED: Lions To Play In Empty Stadium?]

I pay less attention to (the trade rumors) than my wife does,” Stafford said Thursday (via Michael Rothstein of ESPN.com). “But it’s something that doesn’t bother me. Listen, I’m here, I want to be here. I love being a Detroit Lion, I love leading this team.”

The Stafford family put their five-bedroom, seven-bathroom home on the market. The lakefront home features an infinity swimming pool and an indoor basketball court partially fashioned with the Pistons’ original hardwood floor at the Pontiac Silverdome. In case you’re interested in this little fixer-upper of a summer shack, the asking price is $6.5MM. And, don’t worry, the Staffords aren’t looking to leave Michigan.

No speculation is needed. We’re about to have our fourth child and I personally do not want to live on a lake or have a pool with four children [under the age of 4],” Kelly Stafford said on Instagram (h/t Rothstein). “So that is the reason that it is on the market.”

The Lions front office has also repeatedly shot down the possibility of moving on from Stafford. Yes, he’s 32 and, yes, he did miss half of the 2019 season, but he enjoyed a 136-game streak of consecutive starts before the back problems surfaced. And, in his eight starts, he threw for nearly 2,500 yards, 19 touchdowns, and five interceptions while ranking No. 8 in ESPN’s Total QB Rating.

This year, he’s set to be on the Lions’ payroll for $21.3MM. After that, his cap number moves to $33MM in 2021. They may have liked Herbert, Tagovailoa, and some of the other QBs in this year’s draft class, but Stafford is the quarterback who gives them the best chance to win in 2020. For his part, Stafford says the speculation doesn’t bother him very much.

I really don’t pay too much attention to ’em,” Stafford said of the talk. “I pay less attention to them than my wife does. But it’s something that doesn’t bother me. I’m here. I want to be here. I love being a Detroit Lion. I love leading this team. So all that kind of stuff is just kind of out there to be out there. It’s a slow news month at that point, and I’m just happy to be where I am and ready to deal with this offseason the way it is and try to make the best of the season that I hope happens.”

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Lions To Play In Empty Stadium?

The NFL is going full steam ahead in its efforts to play the 2020 regular season as it otherwise would, but the optimism generated by a recent report indicating the league may be able to (mostly) proceed as normal has been tempered in recent days. For instance, the CFL’s statement that it is likely to cancel its season and reports of NFL teams exploring out-of-state options for training camp feel like harbingers of things to come rather than blips in the radar.

And as Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press writes, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer said in a radio interview yesterday that she does not expect to see Ford Field, the Lions’ home stadium, full of fans in the fall. The league has said that if it plays the 2020 season, it plans to do so in front of capacity crowds, but obviously that will be dependent on each state.

“There is reason to feel some confidence here,” Whitmer said. “But we also have to measure (peoples’) expectations and say life’s going to be different. We’re not going to be filling stadiums in the fall.” 

It’s unclear whether that means Whitmer is amenable to playing with partially full or empty stadiums, and as Birkett notes, the governor was interrupted before she could finish her thought. A follow-up email from her deputy press secretary did not do much to clarify matters.

“Medical experts have made it clear that COVID-19 spreads when people are in close contact with one another, and without a vaccine, our best strategy in combating the virus is to practice social distancing,” the email read. “In regards to stadiums, our administration will continue to make informed decisions on re-engagement based upon data and medical expertise.”

Even if the NFL season is delayed, it does not sound as if Whitmer is prepared to green-light capacity crowds.

“Certainly as governor I want to give people the confidence that our plan will be met on days certain,” she said. “But the fact of the matter is, COVID-19 is a novel virus and that means it’s like nothing we’ve ever seen before. We’re learning a tremendous amount. Every week that goes by, we’ve learned so much more about this disease and what it’s going to take to keep us safe and to avoid that second wave.”

Whitmer’s stance is likely to be echoed by leaders across the country, which means that if the 2020 season does get off the ground, there will be games played without fans, and teams in more restricted states may need to play in states like Arizona, which authorized the resumption of play for major sports leagues effective May 16.

The Lions, meanwhile, issued a generic statement on the matter last week:

“The Detroit Lions are following the NFL’s lead in preparing to play a full 2020 season in front of fans. Given the evolving circumstances surrounding COVID-19, contingencies are needed and will be in place. We are evaluating all facets of the game day experience, and will do what is required to maintain a safe and healthy environment at Ford Field where our fans can feel comfortable.”