Detroit Lions: Releasing Devon Kennard remains a mystery

(Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)
(Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images) /

Releasing linebacker Devon Kennard remains a questionable transaction even after the Detroit Lions signed Jamie Collins.

It was a mediocre offseason and free agency period for general manager Bob Quinn and the Detroit Lions, but it’s headlined by the signing of linebacker Jamie Collins formally of the New England Patriots and Cleveland Browns.  It’s safe to forget about that year in Cleveland, though.

Almost immediately after the Lions signed Collins, they decided to release a team captain and most productive linebacker over the last two seasons.  Parting ways with Devon Kennard remains a mystery to me.

Kennard is fueled to match-up with the Lions in week three of the 2020 season when Detroit travels to Arizona.  In an article published by SI All Cardinals, Kennard expresses his excitement;

"“I built a strong relationship with a lot of guys in that locker room,” Kennard said. “I was a captain the last two years in Detroit, so I still have a lot of love for my old teammates. But a lot of those guys know how I am. I’m a competitor and when we get in those lines, I’m trying to beat them just like I know they’re going to be trying to do the same. So, I’m looking forward to that, but I take it one game at a time, one day at a time. That’s a long ways away. I’m worried about trying to win today and then tomorrow and when we get there, we get there.”1Comment"

Quinn wisely cut rapidly declining right tackle Rick Wagner, and I commend him for that, but the Kennard transaction remains a mystery.  After being cut, Kennard mentioned he’d been as shocked as anyone after welcoming Jamie Collins to the linebacker room only to be on the chopping block hours later.  Kennard said he had an excellent relationship with the Detroit Lions coaching staff, and he’d just been nominated as the Lions’ representative for the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award.

During his two seasons in Detroit, Kennard recorded back-to-back seven sack seasons.  When you consider the team had struggled to generate any type of consistent pass-rush during the first two years of Matt Patricia’s tenure in Detroit, you’d think they’d prefer to keep an edge rusher under contract around and pair him with a player like Collins.

Collins excels in coverage, something the Lions’ linebackers have struggled for years with, especially matching up with tight ends.  According to Pro Football Focus, in 2019, Collins had been the top producing linebacker in coverage.  It’s been the best rating from any linebacker since 2011.

Again, wouldn’t pairing a player like Kennard with Collins and rookie Julian Okwara be beneficial to the Detroit Lions?  It’s a position that needs depth, especially in Detroit where edge-rushers are extinct.

Next. 3 positions that could still use some upgrading. dark

It’s not like there wasn’t a market for Kennard, just one day after being cut by Detroit, he signed a new three-year $20-million deal with his home-state Arizona Cardinals.