DETROIT – From new coordinators to front office hires to Matthew Stafford trade rumors that shook the whole league, the Detroit Lions had one of the busiest weekends in franchise history.
If you weren’t able to keep up with all the moves, or if you just need a refresher now that things seem to have settled down, we’ve listed all five of the moves below.
The most significant news of the weekend broke Saturday evening, when multiple experts revealed the Lions and Stafford are expected to part ways this offseason.
The decision appears to be mutual as the Lions move forward under a new regime and Stafford enters his mid-30s. He has requested a trade, and all signs point to the Lions obliging, as long as they can get fair value in return.
Stafford has started 165 games for the Lions since he was drafted with the No. 1 overall pick in 2009. The franchise was coming off the first 0-16 season in NFL history, and the hope was Stafford would be the foundation of a massive turnaround plan.
Lions QB Matthew Stafford requests trade: Where could he land?
It worked to some extent, as the Lions made the playoffs three times -- in 2011, 2014 and 2016. The problem is they went 0-3 in those games, and most of the seasons in between were, let’s just say, unsightly.
Stafford was never the reason the Lions struggled, though he had his fair share of slip-ups in big moments. But that’s bound to happen when someone starts all 16 games eight straight seasons and nine out of 10 years.
Stafford has elite arm talent, from pure downfield arm strength to his ability to improvise in tight situations. That’s why he’s amassed more than 45,000 passing yards and 282 touchdowns with a completion percentage of 62.6%. He’s thrown 144 interceptions and averaged 7.2 yards per pass attempt.
There’s really no argument against Stafford as the greatest quarterback in franchise history. He’s got the stats and the longevity. Even without the playoff wins, he had enough big moments over 165 games to earn himself the reputation as a tough player who should never be counted out.
The Dan Campbell hire is already paying dividends for the Lions, as their new head coach landed one of the most sought-after offensive minds in the game this weekend.
Anthony Lynn was the head coach of the Los Angeles Chargers for four years before being fired this offseason. He went 33-31 over that span and won a playoff game.
Under Lynn, rookie quarterback Justin Herbert quickly emerged as one of the league’s bright young stars. With Stafford apparently on the way out, the Lions might look to add a quarterback with the No. 7 overall pick in the upcoming draft.
Considering how Herbert developed this year, Lynn seems like an obvious choice to help mentor whoever ends up under center for the franchise going forward.
Lynn also helped turn Austin Ekeler into a solid NFL running back, which could really work out for last year’s second-round pick, D’Andre Swift. As a rookie, Swift had some glaring mistakes, but there were obvious flashes of the potential that made him the No. 1 running back prospect in last year’s class.
Speaking of coaches who can work with the team’s talented young players, Aaron Glenn was officially hired Saturday after days of rumors that Campbell would bring him along to be the defensive coordinator.
Glenn spent the last five seasons as the secondary coach for the New Orleans Saints, where Campbell coached tight ends before accepting the Lions job.
Glenn was an excellent player who spent 15 years in the league before getting into coaching. He’ll take over a defense that has been nothing short of awful in recent years and has very few pieces that will be part of the plan going forward.
His specialization in the secondary could help last year’s No. 3 overall pick, Jeff Okudah, who was considered a can’t-miss prospect in the draft but graded out as one of the worst cornerbacks in the league as a rookie. It’s a difficult position for new NFL players, though, so Okudah could still have a very bright future.
One of the problems that has haunted the Lions for decades is their inability to identify and evaluate talent, both in the draft and free agency. Too often, the Lions have made surprising choices early in drafts and insisted they did their homework, only for it to predictably crash and burn (think Jahlani Tavai).
Well it appears new general manager Brad Holmes is trying to surround himself with the best football minds he can find -- a smart move for someone who’s settling into his first GM job.
Holmes’ track record suggests he has what it takes to be a good general manager, but it will certainly help to have someone who’s done it before by his side. That’s where John Dorsey comes in.
Dorsey has reportedly joined the Lions’ front office to take on a prominent role under Holmes. When he was in Kansas City, Dorsey traded up to select superstar Patrick Mahomes in the first round of the 2017 draft. Dorsey built most of the roster that’s around Mahomes today -- the one that won the Super Bowl last year and is going to another one in two weeks.
Then, Dorsey went to Cleveland and drafted Baker Mayfield. He helped build the team that won 11 games this season, won a playoff game at Pittsburgh and came one play away from beating the aforementioned Chiefs.
His eye for quarterbacks will be critical for the Lions as they look for the next face of the franchise. If he can build the Browns into such as force, maybe he can help do the same for another long-suffering fan base.
Detroit brought Holmes over from the Los Angeles Rams organization, and he added another credible football mind to the mix.
Ray Agnew worked with Holmes in the Rams organization, and now they’ll join forces again, as Agnew will reportedly take the assistant general manager job in Detroit.
Agnew and Holmes were part of the front office that rebuilt the Rams and turned them into a perennial playoff team. He also played 11 seasons in the NFL, so his resume checks all the boxes.
With Holmes, Dorsey and Agnew in the fold, and a pair of strong coordinators working under Campbell, who’s more of a motivator than a tactician, the Lions at least seem to have a vision.