The Detroit Lions didn’t generate much pressure on the quarterback in 2018 and 2019, and now, the team is looking to move on from one of their best players are doing so.
According to Mike Garafolo of the NFL Network, the Lions could release linebacker Devon Kennard. Garafolo reported the release was in the works for Kennard in Detroit.
Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network explained that while the Lions had not quite released Kennard yet, he is likely to be on the move via trade in the coming days. If not traded, the team could then release him.
Either way, it looks as if the Lions are going to move on from Kennard, one of their defensive captains and a key player on that side of the ball.
Devon Kennard Called Lions Release Candidate
Recently, Pro Football Focus put together a piece explaining moves teams should make this offseason, and writer Anthony Treash suggested potential cuts for every team. When it came to Detroit, Kennard was the suggested cut. Here’s what was written:
“Cutting Devon Kennard and bringing in Kyle Van Noy makes too much sense for Detroit and would be a great move. They played nearly the same exact role for their respective teams in 2019, and Van Noy was far better in it. Van Noy was actually a Lion himself at one point before he was traded to New England midseason in 2016. After playing mostly off-ball linebacker for most of his career, Van Noy transitioned to the edge and recorded a career-high 84.2 PFF grade in 2019, ranking 16th in the NFL. In the pass-rush, Van Noy ranked 34th in grade — over 50 spots ahead of Kennard, who had just a 58.1 pass-rush grade in 2019 and has never eclipsed a 60.0 pass-rush grade in his four seasons with 100-plus pass-rush reps (has two with fewer than 100).”
Cutting Kennard would seem to be counter productive for the Lions, as he was one of their better sack artists the last few years and fits seamlessly with the defense, but the suggestion here is the team make a free agency play for Kyle Van Noy in order to fill in for Kennard.
Devon Kennard Vocally Leads Lions
As the team struggled down the stretch, many fans gave up. That’s not Kennard, who would rather stay and fight, something he says the team took to heart.
“I think that’s definitely the message I am portraying to everybody on the team. I think everyone’s on the same page. Let’s go out there and get better every day, improve and still have a lot of football left,” he said. “We have a chance to get better every day and win.”
As Kennard continued to speak, his voice changed. Admittedly, he sounded frustrated about the tailspin the team has been on.
“I’m tired of losing, quite frankly. I’m not a loser,” he said. “I refuse to accept that. So whatever we got to do to fix that, I think the guys in the locker room are with me.”
Spoken like a true leader. Clearly, Kennard is a leader in multiple ways for the Lions, and losing him would be losing one of the key voices for the team.
Devon Kennard Stats
In his career, Kennard has been sneaky productive, and has been a great signing by Bob Quinn since he pulled it off in the 2018 offseason for more reasons than just his leadership.
So far, as a member of the Lions, Kennard has 95 tackles, 13 sacks, 1 forced fumble and 1 touchdown so far in his career. The touchdown came this season against the New York Giants and was a memorable play.
Obviously, Kennard has to revel in the fact that he made this play against his former team. A few years back, Kennard elected to sign with Detroit in free agency, and he’s been another find by general manager Bob Quinn. So far in his Detroit career, Kennard has been a sack man for the team, putting up plenty in 2018 in his first season with the team. Kennard had never scored a touchdown in Detroit, so it was a nice feather in his cap in order to do so for the Lions, especially against New York.
Kennard is an aggressive player, so it was nice to see his instinct to score pay off. It was his first touchdown in a long time which was fun to see. Defensive players don’t usually get a chance to get in the end zone, and for Kennard to do it in this manner against his former team was certainly excellent.
Kennard has been a big play machine, so the Lions likely would have to have a rock solid plan if they did indeed decide to move on. It looks like that might be the case soon.