The Detroit Lions have finally made their decision as it relates to linebacker Jarrad Davis, and it’s clear the player is now on a ticking clock with the team.
Saturday, it was revealed by Justin Rogers of the Detroit News that the Lions would be declining the fifth year option for Davis with the team. This means the linebacker will still play for Detroit next year, but will be a free agent come next offseason. The deadline for this decision is officially May 4.
Obviously, the Lions can still decide to stick with Davis on a new deal after that point, but for now, it looks as if 2020 is make or break for the former first round draft pick out of Florida. In Detroit, Davis has been inconsistent at best, putting up 259 tackles, 10 sacks and 1 interception in his career. The Lions have struggled with how best to use him, and it feels as if 2020 is now a tipping point for the team with the player.
Jarrad Davis Lions’ Stats
Davis always brings it on the field, and that’s something he has done since he played in college with the Florida Gators. Known as one of the best tacklers and leaders in his class, Davis has all the tools to be a fixture in Detroit as he has shown with his aggressive play. He’s going to be a fan favorite for his never say die attitude for years to come.
At times, Davis can be his own worst enemy in terms of the things he does on the field in pursuit and in coverage, but more often than not, his speed and passion is a major advantage for him. This year, Davis has been best at rushing the passer. He’s put up 62 tackles and 2 sacks this season.
Earlier this past season, Davis was excited when the Lions started 2-1-1 and looked to be turning over a new leaf, something which he said.
“In a sense we’re kind of like a newly seeded plant in a way. We’re starting to blossom a little bit. We got to keep watering, we got to keep giving ourself that light. We have to keep making sure that we are paying attention to things that are going to help us grow and get better,” Davis told the media a few months back.
Davis was around in 2018 for what became a struggle amid a frustrating 6-10 season on the field, and as he said, it’s been somewhat a shift in mindset and motivation which has led to Detroit’s turnaround on the field early in the 2019 season, as well as cleaning up some of the small details which prevented the Lions from having more overwhelming success.
Davis coming back and playing through pain shows the type of leadership he exhibits. Certainly, nobody can question the fact that Davis has been a solid leader for the team.
Lions Defense Upgraded This Offseason
One side of the ball that needed the most change was the defense. After a horrible pair of seasons under Matt Patricia, there’s already been some big changes on that side of the ball. How will that impact the team when all is said and done? The returns will be very positive if this new piece is to be right.
In a piece breaking down some winners and losers of free agency, Pro Football Focus and writer Ben Linsey took a closer look at what the Lions have done, and found them to be a winner. Here’s a look at what he wrote on that:
“The spotlight is on Darius Slay, particularly after he publicly acknowledged last night that he wants out of Detroit, and as of Thursday morning, a deal has been put in place to send Slay to the Eagles. That is not ideal for the Lions. Despite the down year from a grading standpoint in 2019 (56.4 PFF grade), Slay remains one of the top cornerbacks in the NFL. During the five-year stretch from 2014 to 2018, he ranked eighth among qualifying cornerbacks in overall grade, and he routinely draws shadow assignments against the opposing team’s best wide receiver, making those results all-the-more impressive.
As all that trade speculation took place, the Lions went about improving their coverage to soften the blow of his inevitable loss. They signed former New England Patriots linebacker Jamie Collins, a player who has been outstanding in coverage and as a blitzer for New England over his career but struggled when traded to the Cleveland Browns. He’s an intriguing option for a Lions team that needed an injection of talent into their linebacking corps. The hope is that the transition to Matt Patricia’s defense is smoother than the one Collins made four seasons ago in Cleveland.
Detroit then addressed the secondary with two more moves, trading for Patriots safety Duron Harmon (shocker, I know) and signing former Atlanta Falcons cornerback Desmond Trufant. Both players were drafted in 2013, and neither has recorded an overall grade of 65.0 or lower over the course of their NFL careers, rarely dipping below 70.0.
Harmon has been a rangy playmaker on the back end of the Patriots’ defense at free safety. He is one of just eight safeties with 10 or more regular-season interceptions over the past three seasons. Trufant is a 6-foot cornerback who came into the NFL with sub-4.4 speed, and he figures to fit well into a Lions defense that plays a lot of press-man coverage. He’s not quite the same player as Slay, but he has shown in Atlanta that he is fully capable of being the No. 1 guy on the outside. Both players, along with Collins, should improve the Lions coverage in 2020 despite the loss of their top player.”
Detroit made some draft picks to aid the spot with Jeff Okudah and Julian Okwara coming into the mix along with John Penisini. That group figures to play a role. Interestingly enough, no linebackers were added to the mix in the draft, which means the Lions could want Davis to try and nail down some type of role long term.
Lions Free Agency Signings
The Lions have reached reported free agency agreements with offensive lineman Halapoulivaati Vaitai, linebacker Jamie Collins, quarterback Chase Daniel and defensive lineman Nick Williams. Additionally, they’ve added Danny Shelton, Desmond Trufant and Jayron Kearse. Duron Harmon is coming in via trade. The group upgrades some important spots on the team, and will help the Lions boost the spots that are most needed for 2020. The Lions have managed to get things going quickly and effectively this offseason in free agency to be able to try and reshape their team.
It’s true the defense has been the biggest positive in terms of a remake at the spot. Davis will be a part of that in 2020, but it could be up to how he plays if he lasts any longer.