The 2021 Detroit Lions Will Not be Recognizable

Jan 13, 2019; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints assistant head coach and tight end coach Dan Campbell during pregame of a NFC Divisional playoff football game against the Philadelphia Eagles at Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

The Detroit Lions are amid a rebuild or a reset – depending on one’s perspective. The organization axed general manager Bob Quinn last November in favor of Brad Holmes, who has a wildly different vision for the future. And it’s probably a wise move. Why? Since 2009, when now-departed quarterback Matthew Stafford joined the franchise, the Lions are the NFL’s seventh-worst team via win percentage. Detroit won 41% of all football games with Stafford linked to the organization.

With a new general manager accompanied a new head coach – the brash and peculiar Dan Campbell. He’s a spitfire of a human and joins the team after coaching tight ends for the New Orleans Saints from 2016 to 2020.

Free agency commenced one week ago, transforming the roster in a fashion that “makeover” might not even do justice.

The Lions will have a new general manager, head coach, coaching staff under Campbell, quarterback, wide receivers – the works. This is wholesale, from-the-bottom-up change. Too, the NFL draft hasn’t transpired yet. That will shakedown in five weeks. The roster will fluctuate more at the end of April.

The 2021 Lions, on paper, will arguably be the most unrecognizable franchise in the business. Most of that “feel” is derived from the quarterback change with the aforementioned Stafford to Jared Goff – a signal-caller seeking a career rejuvenation after the Los Angeles Rams soured on his long-term prognosis.

Now, onlookers wait and see if the team will get better or worse.  


As of March 20th, 2021, the Lions have added the following personnel:

Jared Goff (QB) – from LAR
Michael Brockers (DT) – from LAR
Tyrell Williams (WR) – from LV
Breshad Perriman (WR) – from NYJ
Jamaal Williams (RB) – from GB
Randy Bullock (K) – from CIN
Josh Hill (TE) – from NO
Charles Harris (DE) – from ATL
Tim Boyle (QB) – from GB
Shaun Dion Hamilton (LB) – from WAS

The keynote addition is Goff, mainly because he will be the face of the team for at least one year. Notably, the Lions acquired a king’s ransom for jettisoning Stafford, too. Detroit will receive the Rams third-round draft pick this year and the Rams’ first-round draft picks in both 2022 and 2023 – in addition to Goff.

Brockers should aid the interior defensive line with his sliding 65-70 Pro Football Focus grade. The wide receiving corps was completely reshaped with the add-ons of Williams and Perriman. And then Jamaal Williams came aboard from the rival Green Bay Packers, presumably to replace an exiting Adrian Peterson.


As of March 20th, 2021, the Lions parted ways with the following personnel:

Matthew Stafford (QB) – to LAR
Kenny Golladay (WR) – to NYG
Marvin Jones (WR) – to JAX
Desmond Trufant (CB) – to CHI
Matt Prater (K) – to ARI
Reggie Ragland (LB) – to NYG
Jarrad Davis (LB) – to NYJ
Justin Coleman (CB) – to MIA
Jamal Agnew (WR) – to LAC
Miles Killebrew (S) – to PIT
Oday Aboushi (T) – to LAC

Golladay will be missed – tremendously. He is a Top 10 wideout and seeks a geographical cure for winning in New York, albeit a curious choice for a winning outlook. Marvin Jones signed on for the Trevor Lawrence Show. Trufant stays in the NFC North and will hope to shore up the Chicago Bears decimated defense. Prater is a solid, reputable kicker that bought into the glitz of Kyler Murray, DeAndre Hopkins, and J.J. Watt – or as some call them, the Further Westerly Houston Texans.


The purgatory dudes as of March 20th, 2021:

Adrian Peterson (RB)
Everson Griffen (DE)
Danny Shelton (DT)
Mohamed Sanu (WR)
Danny Amendola (WR)
Jesse James (TE)
Chase Daniel (QB)
Tony McRae (CB)
Darryl Roberts (CB)
Joe Dahl (G)
Russell Bodine (C)
Duran Harmon (S)
Christian Jones (LB)
Kerrith Whyte (RB)
Alexander Myres (CB)

This is all the “fat” that new general manager Brad Holmes issued a no thanks. Most of the notable men on the list are entering the final stages of their respective careers – particularly Peterson, Griffen, Shelton, Sanu, and Amendola.

It’s also mentionable that Detroit re-upped with these existing players: Romeo Okwara (DE), Don Muhlbach (LS), Jalen Reeves-Maybin (LB), Mike Ford (CB), Jason Cabinda (LB), Jack Fox (P), and Matt Nelson (T).

The Lions look upward in the division at the Packers and Vikings in terms of roster talent, but this new rendition of men is markedly dissimilar to the depth chart of 2020. The deal-decider will probably be the wherewithal that head coach Dan Campbell finds to create wins. If his bombastic nature results in more 5-11-ish seasons, well, his blustery style will be the butt of jokes.

But a season akin to 11-5 or so will be a conduit to applaud his fustian style.