Detroit Lions Sign TE Quarless Despite Gun Incident, Suspension

Aug 3, 2015; Green Bay, WI, USA; Green Bay Packers tight end Andrew Quarless practice during training camp at Ray Nitschke Field. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports
Aug 3, 2015; Green Bay, WI, USA; Green Bay Packers tight end Andrew Quarless practice during training camp at Ray Nitschke Field. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports /

The Detroit Lions made a series of moves on Monday morning, including signing tight end Andrew Quarless despite his 2015 gun-related arrest and two-game suspension.

The Detroit Lions attempted to address the depth problem at tight end on Monday morning, signing former Green Bay Packer Andrew Quarless in spite of his July 2015 arrest for a gun-related incident and subsequent two-game suspension.

The team also signed linebacker Dominique Tovell, sent wide receiver Andre Caldwell to injured reserve and released tight end Ben McCord.

In July 2015, Quarless was arrested and charged with firing a weapon in public after he fired a semi-automatic twice into the ground during an argument with a woman in Miami. He pled no contest, was fined and placed on probation in November. The NFL announced on August 12 that Quarless was suspended for the first two games of the season because of the incident, a violation of the personal conduct policy.

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The Lions released a statement along with the announcement of Quarless’ signing on Monday.

"“We are aware (it read) of the upcoming NFL suspension of Andrew Quarless. We have thoroughly researched the incident that caused the suspension and have talked at length with Andrew about this. Andrew has been forthright and honest about the situation and he has gone through the process within the legal system. As an organization we are comfortable with adding Andrew to the roster and look forward to seeing him compete for the rest of the preseason.”"

This signing seems to undermine Lions’ general manager Bob Quinn’s “zero-tolerance policy” regarding domestic violence and weapons incidents. Quinn said in January, “The two things that are zero tolerance are domestic violence and dangerous weapons. Those are the two things I’m not going to stand for, I don’t believe in. That’s how I feel.”

In June, Lions owner Martha Firestone Ford received the “Zero Tolerance Award” from the Detroit Public Safety Foundation for the team’s policies regarding domestic violence.

Quarless played for the Packers from 2010-2015 after being drafted in the fifth round by Green Bay in the 2010 NFL Draft, winning Super Bowl XLV with them in 2011. He started appeared in 60 regular season games and started in 27, catching 89 passes for 940 yards and six touchdowns. Quarless may practice with the team and play in the preseason but cannot play in the first two games of the regular season.

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The Lions also signed UDFA rookie linebacker Dominique Tovell on Monday. The Lions signed Tovell once earlier in camp, on July 28, before releasing him on August 1. He initially signed out of Louisiana-Lafayette with the New Orleans Saints after the NFL Draft. He signed with the Lions after the Saints released him, signed with the Atlanta Falcons in August after the Lions released him and has now signed again with the Lions after the Falcons released him.

Wide receiver Andre Caldwell was placed on injured reserve on Monday, a move which makes room for one of the new signings. Caldwell signed with the Lions in May and had been involved in the Lions’ wide receiver position battle, but was wearing a cast on his right hand during camp last week and did not play in the Lions’ preseason opener against the Pittsburgh Steelers. No members of the Detroit Lions have commented or released a statement on Caldwell’s injury. Caldwell is in his ninth season in the NFL and caught 156 passes for 1,509 yards and 11 touchdowns with the Cincinnati Bengals and Denver Broncos, and won Super Bowl 50 with the Broncos last season.

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Tight end Ben McCord was released as the final corresponding move to the two signings. McCord was signed by the Lions as a UDFA out of Central Michigan on June 1. He played only seven total snaps in the preseason game at Pittsburgh.