Detroit Lions: Trading for Solomon Thomas worth considering

(Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images)
(Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images) /

The San Francisco 49ers are continuing to overhaul their roster on the fly in hopes of mirroring their success from a season ago.  General Manager (GM) John Lynch and head coach Kyle Shanahan are re-loading, not rebuilding. The Detroit Lions should look to add Solomon Thomas if he’s deemed expendable.

Another victim of a team tight against the salary cap appears to be defensive end Solomon Thomas, and the Detroit Lions should consider adding the former first-round pick.

Similar to Jarrad Davis of the Detroit Lions, the San Francisco 49ers decided to decline the fifth-year option of Solomon Thomas. Declining the fifth-year option doesn’t automatically signal the end of a player’s tenor on a specific team, but it does send a subtle message; play better or start searching the real estate in another city.

The 49ers have spent an abundance of draft capital on their defensive front over the past handful of years and counting.  As the salary cap number threshold tightens, like many good teams, high priced players need to be moved elsewhere.  Unfortunately, a team struggles to sign their own, but that’s what happens when an organization has a plethora of talent at their disposal.

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The 49ers were forced to move their top interior defensive lineman, another former first-round pick in DeForest Buckner to the Indianapolis Colts.  Upon his arrival, Buckner signed a life-changing contract extension that will incredibly pay him over $20-million per season.  The only other interior defensive lineman making more is Aaron Donald, so he’s in elite company.  Brilliantly, Lynch and company were able to replace Buckner in the first round with Javon Kinlaw.

It’s precisely the philosophy that led the 49ers to their success of a year ago.  Lynch and Shanahan want to build in the teaches.  They’ve expressed a desire to compile elite front seven talent on defense and a run-first offense that will control the clock.

I hope the Detroit Lions adopt this philosophy moving forward, and after what I’d consider a successful draft, they seem to have a similar vision.  Aside from Jeff Okudah, Detroit focused on their offensive line, an edge rusher, and potentially an elite talent at running back all in the first four rounds of the NFL Draft.

The Detroit Lions still have plenty of needs on defense, and Solomon Thomas could fill multiple voids.  The Lions desperately need an interior lineman who can create a pass-rush on third down.  Thomas can slide from an end position to a tackle position in certain passing situations.

At 6-foot-2, 280-pounds, and having sub-4.70 40-yard dash speed, Thomas brings plenty of versatility to a defense although it hasn’t completely translated to at NFL level, yet.  He’s not an every-down defensive tackle, but in specific situations, he will be a fit.  Thomas doesn’t have to be a rotational player, but with all the talent the 49ers deploy he is.  With the Detroit Lions, he could successfully line up as an end on first and second down and slide inside on passing situations.

Thomas is just 24-years old but never lived up to his draft position.  The 49ers selected Thomas with the third overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft.  He’s amassed 72 tackles, 70 pressures, and just six sacks over his three-year career.

Last season Thomas only played a total of 425 defensive snaps and accounted for just two sacks and 12 total defensive pressures.  According to Pro Football Focus, Thomas earned himself just a 56.7 overall rating.  It’s a below-average rating, and that is worrisome knowing he played alongside plenty of elite talent.  Perhaps he’d be invisible playing in an average or below-average defense?

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The Detroit Lions could likely land Thomas for a sixth or even a seventh-round pick in the 2021 NFL draft, and he’d be worth the risk at that price.  A player who may benefit from a change of scenery, and perhaps a motivated Thomas could benefit Detroit.  With Thomas entering the final year of his rookie deal, he’s not only playing for a second contract, but he’s also potentially playing for his professional future.