As the Detroit Lions prepare for their second preseason game, Friday night against the New York Giants, talk has heated up about which players will make the 53-man roster, which will be cut, and which could be trade chips.
Justin Rogers of The Detroit News put out a piece this morning which list five current Lions who could end up being traded. Here are the players he believes could be heading out of town sooner than later along with my two cents on whether or not I agree.
RB – Ameer Abdullah
“Let’s start with the obvious option. Abdullah struggled last season after he was handed the starting job, but the blocking scheme and slew of offensive line injuries played a significant role in his depressed production.
Still young (25) and nearly two years removed from a devastating foot injury, Abdullah offers good open-field elusiveness, above-average pass-catching ability and a resume that includes kick returning, all with a dirt-cheap contract ($1.32 million cap hit).
Running backs aren’t often coveted trade chips, but Abdullah’s skill set and price tag should generate some interest if he's put on the block.”
Let me begin by saying that Ameer Abdullah is the best running back on the Detroit Lions at this moment in time. (Yes, I know I will get killed for saying this but it's true.) Sure, Kerryon Johnson has great talent and he could end up passing Abdullah in the future but he is not there yet. Rogers' rationale is exactly why I believe the Lions should hold on to Abdullah at least for another season. He is young, cheap, can catch, and he can return kicks. If Ameer if given an opportunity behind a healthy offensive line, he will impress even his biggest haters. Unless the Lions are offered great value, Abdullah is not going anywhere.
S/LB – Miles Killebrew
“Currently in the midst of attempting a difficult position change late in the process, keeping Killebrew as a developmental project might be a luxury the Lions can’t afford. But throw on the tape and you’ll see a player with a desired build (6-foot-2, 222 pounds) who situationally thrived his first two seasons and can be a force on special teams.”
As much as I like Killebrew, I tend to agree with Rogers on this one. That being said, unless something changes, I do not believe Killebrew is in line to make the 53-man roster which would make his trade value very low. It would take a team to really like him in order for them to even give up a late-round pick.
QB – Jake Rudock
“Two years ago, as a rookie, the Lions cut Rudock and he went unclaimed on waivers. It wasn’t until late in that first season that a team attempted to poach him off the practice squad, leading to his promotion to the main roster.
Rudock served as the Lions' backup last season after showing promising development on the practice field. There’s been some regression in that performance this offseason, notably holding on to the ball too long and his downfield accuracy.
Quinn and Patricia come from New England, a franchise that’s made a habit of trading young quarterbacks for draft assets. With veteran Matt Cassel (ironically one of those QBs New England traded) in line to win the Lions' backup job this year, the team might as well get something for Rudock, if the market bears it.”
One of the Lions' biggest weaknesses (hopefully it will not matter) is the backup quarterback position. Rogers notes that Rudock holds on to the ball too long but so does Matt Cassell as we saw in preseason game No. 1. In my opinion, neither Cassell nor Rudock have the ability to do lead the Lions to a victory but Cassell will likely make the team. As far as trading Rudock goes, I just do not see a team out there that would give up anything for him. Expect the former Michigan Wolverine to get cut, not traded.
OT – Corey Robinson
“In the final year of his contract, Robinson is locked in a battle with rookie Tyrell Crosby to be the team’s swing tackle, the versatile backup active on game days.
Robinson has battled injuries his entire career, which has slowed his once-promising development. If the Lions can find a tackle-needy team willing to throw a late-round, or even a conditional pick their way, it should be considered. Rostering Brian Mihalik or a developmental rookie wouldn’t be the same downgrade it would have been in years past.”
Rogers is way off base on this one as Robinson is clearly in the lead over rookie Tyrell Crosby for the swing tackle position. Crosby is not close to being ready to play both tackle positions and having a veteran like Robinson will be helpful. Both Robinson and Crosby will make the 53-man roster but Robinson will be the first backup tackle into the game. The only way Robinson is traded is if Bob Quinn signs or trades for another tackle.
WR – Jace Billingsley
“A practice and preseason star, Billingsley might lose out on the numbers game once again. The Lions are top-loaded at the receiver position and could easily get away with carrying four into the regular season, allowing the team to keep extra depth at another spot, such as tight end, linebacker or defensive line.
Billingsley has cleared waivers more than once, and there’s plenty of reason to believe it would happen again, but if a team with a late claim, say New England, who could need extra insurance during Julian Edelman’s suspension, wants to ensure Billingsley’s services, a trade is the best option.
Plus, it wouldn't be an offseason without Quinn making some kind of trade with his former employer.”
Jace Billingsley has talent but there is no way he is making the 53-man roster, which makes him expendable. I agree 100% with Rogers that New England could be a potential landing spot for Jace and I would not be surprised at all to see him produce in the Patriots' offense.