Bob Quinn made some good moves in his first year as general manager of the Detroit Lions that look even smarter heading into year two.
When Bob Quinn took over as general manager of the Detroit Lions one of his first stated objectives was to improve the overall depth of the roster. Roster-building is a multi-year process that really never ends, but Quinn did a nice job in his first year by making several key moves.
But there were some moves he made that may have had more foresight involved than Quinn has been given credit for.
Perhaps Quinn’s biggest move to date was the signing of cornerback Darius Slay to a four-year, $48 million contract extension prior to the 2016 season. The move wasn’t unexpected and the final figures were not surprising, but it was a rare case of the Lions actually getting ahead of the curve instead of falling behind it.
By doing the extension with a year left on Slay’s contract, that gives an extra year for proration of the signing bonus money for purposes of salary cap accounting. That meant a little bigger cap hit for Slay in 2016, but that a portion of the cap hit for the extension was off the books before the extension even kicked in. This is in stark contrast to the bad habit of the previous front office to “kick the can down the road”.
Getting an extension done early also gave the Lions security knowing they would not be losing Slay in free agency and wouldn’t have to resort to the franchise tag as a last resort.
As it turns out, the cornerback market in free agency could be very good for players, but a minefield for teams. A recent article on Pro Football Focus by Sam Monson named five free agents about to be overpaid and three of the five are cornerbacks. By locking in Slay at or slightly below market value last offseason, Quinn and the Lions can sit back as other teams scramble on the free agent market at cornerback.
A contract extension for Slay was an easy decision, and it’s far from the only, or even best, example of Quinn getting ahead of the curve with his first year on the job. That came going all the way back to last year’s draft.
By drafting three offensive linemen,the Lions are well prepared for the 2017 free agency period to do what makes sense rather than to act out of desperation. Faced with the starting right side of their offensive line heading toward free agency, the Lions have already prepared for the possible departures of Riley Reiff and/or Larry Warford.
That’s a good thing considering the upcoming draft is regarded as one of the weakest for offensive linemen in recent memory. Again, getting ahead of the curve.