Detroit Lions: Taylor Decker’s 2021 season in jeopardy

(Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)
(Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images) /

Recently Detroit Lions head coach Dan Campbell mentioned that he wouldn’t rule out the possibility of shutting down starting left tackle Taylor Decker for the 2021 season.

Seemingly hours before the start of the 2021 NFL regular season, Decker underwent hand surgery, more accurately finger surgery.  This past week Decker returned to practice, but Campbell mentioned there is no guarantee Decker returns this week or next, or at all this season.

This past Wednesday, Campbell spoke to the press and comically used the microphone stand to demonstrate how difficult it is for Decker to use his recently repaired finger in blocking situations.  If Decker can return, he will be forced to play with a cast or club covering the recent injury, which is not always a simple task.

With the Detroit Lions currently sitting with an 0-6 record, they could really use Decker, whether it is on the left side or right.  Decker at 70% still translates to the best available lineman on the roster.

Although Decker has remained on Injured Reserve since he returned to practice, the Detroit Lions have a 21-day window to decide if he’s ready to be activated or not.  If Decker is not activated before the 21-day period expires, he will remain on Injured Reserve for the remainder of the season and will be ineligible to return.

Pro Football Focus had a stellar grade on Decker of 82 for his work last season.  Decker excelled in pass protection earning an elite 85.8 mark in that area, and that’s exactly what you need from a left tackle.  He, along with Frank Ragnow, has been and will continue to be missed this season.

Trading Taylor Decker when he’s healthy will not be an option for the Detroit Lions.

Decker reworked his deal and is under contract with the Detroit Lions through the 2024 season.  He’s set to make $18.9 million next season with a dead cap number of $24 million if he’s traded or released.

Detroit Lions general manager Brad Holmes will not be paying Decker more to play elsewhere.  The only question will be which side of the offensive line will Decker play once he returns?

The Detroit Lions have moved rookie tackle Penei Sewell over to the left side, his natural position to replace Decker after he was expected to start at right tackle during his rookie campaign.

According to Pro Football Focus, Sewell has earned a mediocre 61.5 overall rating for his work through the first six games of his career.  That grade also includes a solid 71.1 mark as a run blocker, where he’s proved to be the most consistent.  Over 414 offensive snaps, Sewell has allowed four sacks and 14 hurries, accounting for his below average 56.9 grade in pass protection.

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If Decker cannot return this season, expect Sewell to remain at left tackle with Matt Nelson playing on the right side.