Grading the Lions’ early offseason moves

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The Lions trade of Darius Slay was a crushing blow to Detroit fans. Photo//AP Photo/Paul Sancya

This is one of the biggest offseasons in recent memory for the Detroit Lions. With players leaving last season by trade or free agency, the roster was left with plenty of holes to fill. Let’s recap what moves have been made so far:

Lions sign former Eagles offensive tackle Halapoulivaati Vaitai for 5 years, $45 million:

In theory, this move makes sense with the release of Rick Wagner. The problem here is the execution. 5 years and 50 million dollars for a primarily backup tackle, come on Bob Quinn. Vaitai (or as many call him, Big V) has started just 20 games in 4 seasons and has mightily struggled in pass protection. He is an above average run blocker by the numbers, but keep in mind that this is in a small sample size. To me, this seems like overpaying the unknown, but hopefully Big V proves to be decent at the least. Grade: D

Lions sign veteran linebacker Jamie Collins for 3 years, $30 million ($18 million guaranteed):

I’m sure most Lions fans are thinking, “Oh great, another former Patriot.” This is an appropriate concern, but there are a few things to like about this deal. Collins is an aging 31 year old veteran and the 10 million dollars per year seems outrageous at first glance, but Collins is still productive in this stage of his career. He had eight sacks last season for New England and has been extremely durable throughout his career. He offers above average coverage skills as well as talent off the edge rushing, both areas where the Lions were horrendous last season. Collins is unquestionably the best linebacker in Detroit now. Grade: B

Lions add Bears’ defensive tackle Nick Williams for 2 years, $10 million:

Williams simply will help aid the lack of depth in the front four. After being a nobody for his first six seasons in the league, he had six sacks last season and played all 16 games for the Chicago Bears. With all of the Bears’ injuries up front last season, Williams provided a decent pass rusher and run stopper from the nose tackle position. Williams will most likely be a rotational piece of the Lions front four, but could prove to be more than that. Grade: C+

Journeyman QB Chase Daniel signed by Lions for 3 years, $13 million:

Although Detroit won’t win any Super Bowls with this addition, I like this move. Daniel has been a long time backup quarterback, but has proven to be more than serviceable when the starter goes down with injury. The Lions’ backup QBs were pathetic last year, so this is certainly an upgrade there. Grade: B-

Detroit signs former Patriots and Browns defensive tackle Danny Shelton for 2 years, $8 million:

This is by far the best move Detroit has made so far. Shelton is a proven starting defensive tackle who is an incredibly talented run stopper. He does not rush the passer extremely well, but he is a cheap, solid replacement for Damon “Snacks” Harrison. This is one of the first moves of the Bob Quinn tenure that I do not have any negative things to say about. Grade: A

Lions sign corner Desmond Trufant for 2 years and $21 million:

Another decent signing by Quinn, Trufant has proven to be a good, but not great corner for the Atlanta Falcons. As a cheaper alternative to paying Darius Slay $15 million a season, Trufant works. It still remains to be seen if he can still be a solid number one corner after considerable injury history. He possesses solid size and speed for the position, but his ball skills leave a bit to be desired (13 interceptions in 97 games). This move makes sense for the Lions, but comes with some risks. Grade: B

Lions swap late picks with Pats, acquire safety Duron Harmon:

Harmon is a nice veteran presence to help the young secondary. He has 17 interceptions in seven seasons and adds a level of playmaking to the back end of the secondary that fills in for the 2019 trade of Quandre Diggs. He is more of a coverage guy than a big hitter, but is a player that bolsters the Lions pass defense. Grade: B

Lions trade Darius Slay to Eagles for 3rd, 5th round picks:

This one really hurts. Slay was idolized in the community and fanbase of Detroit and it is heartbreaking to see him go. There are aspects of this move that make sense, such as the desire to not commit a long term deal for 15+ million a year to Slay. The relationship problems between him and Matt Patricia were revealed after the move, so it was obvious why Slay wanted out. This trade will sting for years and I’m sure Slay will fit in nicely with former Lions coach Jim Schwartz’s defense. Hey, at least we got something for him. Grade: D-

Overall offseason grade: B-

Not bad, not great. That’s the Lions offseason in a nutshell. They were able to address some key defensive needs at D-Line and in the secondary, but still have some gaping holes. The loss of Slay prevents me from giving them anything higher than a B-, but some of the moves they made should make the defense better as a whole. This needs to be one heck of a draft for the Lions or they will spend another year in the cellar of the NFC North.