Why He Could Stay
Continuity is one of the more important aspects of successful offensive lines in the NFL. Each of the remaining playoff teams have an offensive line ranked in the top-10, and Atlanta has the only offensive line in the NFL to use only five players for the entire season.
With right tackle Riley Reiff‘s status also in doubt, Bob Quinn may not want to face the possibility of replacing 40% of its existing offensive line.
As mentioned earlier, Larry Warford can be a dominating run defender but inconsistency among the entire unit has netted little positive results in run game. If the Lions want to rededicate themselves to being a more consistent running team, they will need a competent right guard in order for that to happen.
Why His Athleticism Hurts Him
When Bob Quinn took over as Lions general manager he made a strong effort to bring in competition all over the roster. No position group had more players added to it than the offensive line. Over the last year, Quinn has brought in 15 different guards and tackles, including drafting three. And there is one commonality among 14 of them: their Short Shuttle times were run in 4.8 seconds or less.
If we take it a step further, of the offensive line players who made the 53-man roster or practice squad, all six had a Short Shuttle time of 4.77 seconds or lower. And if we look back even further to Quinn’s time in New England, the Patriots have a benchmark of 4.75 seconds for offensive linemen. Bob Quinn has established a pattern of looking for lineman who score well in drills that measure lateral quickness and explosion.
Here’s the problem, Larry Warford’s Short Shuttle time: 5.1 seconds.
That’s the slowest on the on the entire team. By a lot. Every player who is currently on the roster, or was brought in for workout over the past year, has a score under 4.9 seconds.
But maybe you think, “these measurements don’t matter”, and that I’m reading into patterns too much, and “Quinn is all about play on the field”. You may believe he’s “exactly what this team needs at right guard” and that he will “become more consistent in 2017”. If these things are true, then he will cost a hefty sum to retain.
Cost to Re-sign Him
A year ago, the top free agent guard, Kelechi Osemele, got a contract averaging over $10.8 million per season. After Oseleme, the next three guards received contracts ranging from $5.8 – $7.3 million.
And those contract numbers look to be increasing this off-season. Here’s a look at a deal signed by the New York Jets and their starting right guard Brian Winters on Tuesday:
Former Lions and offensive line expert Geoff Schwartz, weighed in on the new deal for Winters.
Make no mistake, Larry Warford is a better player than Brian Winters and if these experts are to be believed, Warford will likely command between $8-12 million in free agency.
Will the state of the team in flux and several starting needs to be filled (especially on defense), I would be surprised to see Bob Quinn invest that kind of capital on a player that doesn’t possess his preferred skill sets.