It may be a bit of a stretch to call Stefen Wisniewski an under the radar target but he isn’t the guy most fans dream about when the idea of adding a center in free agency is considered. That distinction goes to Alex Mack. But with Mack preferring to stay with the Browns and to break the bank in the process, turning to Wisniewski makes a lot of sense.
There is a connection between Wisniewski and Quinn as the New England Patriots were one of the teams he visited with as part of his free agency tour. As director of pro scouting for the Patriots, Quinn would have had a big part in the team bringing Wisniewski in for a meeting.
Wisniewski settled for a one-year, $2.5 million deal with the Jacksonville Jaguars last offseason as he was coming off shoulder surgery. It was reported that Wisniewski had been seeking a deal averaging $4 million per season, so figure on him finding something that meets or exceeds that this year.
That would put him in the top half of the league for centers, although well below the top centers who average nearly $9 million per year. Wisniewski has consistently graded out positively by Pro Football Focus in his five NFL seasons, particularly in pass protection.
The Lions turned the starting center position over to Travis Swanson last season but he struggled and may not be the long-term solution they hoped when drafting him in the third round of the 2014 NFL Draft. A common theme this offseason has been the Lions’ desire to bolster the offensive line and center is one of the few areas it would make sense to do so.
Bob Quinn has already stated that Riley Reiff will be part of the offensive line next season, whether at left tackle or elsewhere, and the Lions have a pair of promising young guards in Larry Warford and Laken Tomlinson. The right tackle spot (or left if Reiff changes sides) is an obvious candidate for an upgrade but making changes at just one spot hardly makes for an upgrade on the scale it seems the Lions desire. Center is the spot that makes the next most sense with Swanson sticking around as a reserve interior lineman.
Next: An Offensive Tackle