This offseason is going to be extremely important for Detroit Lions general manager Bob Quinn and head coach Matt Patricia as they try to improve off of a 6-10 finish in 2018.
For a team to go from last place, which the Lions were in the NFC North, to contending for a playoff spot and beyond, the offseason can be a golden opportunity. This is especially true when it comes to signing free agents. Teams are able to focus in on their greatest needs and if they are willing to pay up, fill some of those needs with established NFL players.
But what happens when a head coach (who has not won anything) has a reputation for not being player friendly? Will free agents shy away from playing for a coach like that?
Well, according to a plethora of reports that surfaced last fall, Patricia was the type of head coach who ran his players into the ground and many players did not appreciate it.
According to Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press, Patricia’s reputation as a head coach may or may not end up costing the Lions some of their free agent targets, or they may have to pay a premium to land them.
One school of thought is that it’s a new year and new locker room — figure there’ll be 30 percent turnover or more from last year — and that Matt Patricia both weeded out some of the players who wouldn’t fit his style and learned from the mistakes he made as coach. But there’s another school of thought, shared with me by multiple agents and one personnel executive in Indianapolis this week (plus one Lions player earlier this year), that the team will have a hard time convincing free agents to take its money without overpaying because the Patriot way isn’t for everyone, especially when you’re not winning.
There is little question about it, Matt Patricia did not get off on the right foot with his players. That being said, people who take new jobs learn from their mistakes and become better at what they do. Let’s hope Patricia did enough to improve as the season went on that his current players are willing to vouch for him to potential free agent signings.