Detroit Lions looking at running backs off the used lot

CHARLOTTE, NC - DECEMBER 17: Jonathan Stewart
CHARLOTTE, NC - DECEMBER 17: Jonathan Stewart /

The Detroit Lions will entertain visits from two veteran running backs today. DeMarco Murray and Jonathan Stewart will both visit Allen Park looking for work.

The Legal tampering period opens today in the NFL, but the Detroit Lions are taking another route. Adam Schefter tweeted last night that DeMarco Murray would be coming to Allen Park for a visit. This morning Schefter tweeted that Jonathan Stewart would be heading in before Murray.

Bob Quinn and head coach Matt Patricia have both said that the Lions desperately needed to fix their running game. Neither of these players is the savior that fans are hoping for, however. They are both 30-year-old running backs coming off terrible seasons.

Murray had a 1287 yard rushing season only two years ago. In 2017, however, he barely managed half that. Murray was plagued by lower body injuries for the entire season and looked every bit like the broken down old running back coming to the end of the line. He averaged 3.6 yards per carry last season for the Titans.

Stewart has a very similar story to that of Murray, but without the high-end production. Stewart has been part of a platoon of running backs for most of his career. He and Deangelo Williams were the poster boys for multi-headed backfields for years. It has been two seasons since Stewart has averaged over four yards per carry, and he has done so only two of the last six seasons.

Between the two, Murray seems like a better fit for the Lions needs. Both are gritty between the tackles runners that do not shy away from contact on short yardage. Murray has shown a great deal more ability in the passing game, however, over the course of his career.

The Lions have capable passing down backs on the roster in Ameer Abdullah and Theo Riddick. Murray’s passing game acumen is not a plus because the Lions need that skill set. The issue with a one-dimensional player like Stewart is that he tips off the defense to whether the offense is running or passing. Even if the offense does throw with Stewart on the field, he will not be getting the ball.

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A signing like Stewart or Murray has no bearing on the Detroit Lions plans in the draft. These are both players that will likely sign for very low salary cap hits on one or two-year deals. In fact, a signing like this would indicate that the Lions are going to take a running back early.