The NFL offseason isn’t officially underway and the Detroit Lions are already making moves to try and get things on the right track for 2020.
Monday afternoon, the team revealed they had signed guard Joshua Garnett to a contract. Garnett was a former first round pick of the San Francisco 49ers in 2016. He had been with the team from then until training camp of 2019, when he was finally released.
Garnett will bolster Detroit’s depth along the offensive line given he plays guard. It’s likely the team will be giving him a look in training camp to see if he can make the roster. Given his recent history, it’s unlikely anything will be guaranteed to Garnett heading into the 2020 season.
Josh Garnett Biography
Coming from NFL bloodlines, Garnett was a standout at Stanford where he claimed the 2015 Outland Trophy as the nation’s best interior lineman. After that, the 49ers picked him 28th overall in the 2016 NFL Draft. His father Scott Garnett had also played for the 49ers in his career.
Things didn’t get off to a quick start for Garnett in the pros. He started 11 games as a rookie in 2016, but knee surgery stopped his 2017 season in its tracks. By 2018, the 49ers had already seemingly moved on, and Garnett was not able to win his job back. A dislocated toe and thumb hurt his progress then as well. By 2019, the 49ers had officially moved on, and cut Garnett at the end of training camp.
Has Garnett had bad luck or simply been an injury prone bust? That is what the Lions will try to figure out when they get him into camp. The hope for the team, of course, is that they can find a way to unlock some of the potential he has shown in the past given his college career.
Analyst Names Lions Free Agency Targets
Recently, Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press was asked in a mailbag segment what free agents he could see the Lions targeting, and proceeded to name plenty that could be of interest to the team when the negotiating period opens in March. Not shockingly, cornerback was a selection there, too.
According to Birkett, there is one side of the ball that is likely to see the most upgrade, and it’s the defensive side. Birkett thinks that the Lions will prioritize a cornerback, a lineman and a backup quarterback for the team this offseason the heaviest.
Here’s a look at what he wrote on the names that could eventually be in play for Detroit when all is said and done:
“The Lions need a cornerback, no matter what they decide to do with Darius Slay, and Byron Jones might be the best option. He tackles, he’s got size, and I don’t know how the Dallas Cowboys can bring him back given the other contracts they have to hand out.
I’d be stunned if the Lions don’t sign a veteran to back up Matthew Stafford. They showed some interest in Case Keenum last year, but couldn’t afford his salary. He won’t cost nearly as much as a free agent, so he’d be a possibility.
Ex-Patriots like Elandon Roberts will probably be on any Lions’ free-agent list, and while I doubt the Kansas City Chiefs let defensive tackle Chris Jones reach free agency, he should be the Lions’ No. 1 target if he’s available.”
Unsurprisingly, defense could be the major focus, and that makes sense for a team that finished the 2019 season in dreadful fashion on that side of the ball.
This signing might only prove how the offensive line is not a huge priority this year.
Lions 2020 Cap Space
Detroit will have a decent chunk of change to spend this offseason, having restructured Matthew Stafford’s deal to push their cap space to around $50 million dollars for the coming season. With this money, the Lions will have multiple different needs to address including the defensive line, secondary as well as potential upgrades on offense.
The Lions could always open up more space with a few savvy moves, and there could be other cap casualties that might impact the team’s final salary number more dramatically ahead of March.
For now, though, the Lions have a decent amount of money to spend to patch several of the holes they will be dealing with.
Taking a flier on Garnett is where the offseason seemingly starts for Detroit.
READ NEXT: Potential Lions Roster Casualties in 2020