With Matt Patricia as head coach from 2018-20, the Detroit Lions had several players and coaches with previous ties to the New England Patriots. But they never signed reliable plug-and-play left tackle Cameron Fleming.
Bleacher Report’s David Kenyon argued that’s the one remaining move the Lions should do this offseason.
“Taylor Decker and Penei Sewell are locked in as starting tackles for the Lions. The problem is that Detroit’s only reserve tackle with NFL experience is Matt Nelson,” Kenyon wrote. “Cameron Fleming may be most interested in pursuing a first-string job, but Detroit is a very logical spot if he’s willing to provide cover for a backup group.”
Fleming has served as a starter each of the past three NFL seasons. He started 15 games for the Denver Broncos during 2022.
How Cameron Fleming Could Fit With the Lions
Fleming began his career with the Patriots as a fourth-round pick in the 2014 NFL Draft. He served as a reserve offensive tackle, helping the team win the Super Bowl during the 2014 and 2016 seasons.
He was never a front-line starter with the Patriots, but Fleming always worked his way into the lineup. He’s started at least two games during each of his nine NFL seasons.
With the Patriots, he started seven contests in 2015. He also started two playoff games in 2017-18.
After his rookie contract with the Patriots expired, Fleming joined the Dallas Cowboys, where he started six games in two seasons.
Fleming received his first opportunity to be an every week starter in 2020 with the New York Giants. He’s started 35 games over the past three years with the Giants and Broncos.
Overall, Fleming has played in 111 NFL contests, starting 61 of them. All of his snaps but two since the start of his second season have been at left or right tackle.
That experience could be very useful for the Lions. Detroit’s starting tackles Taylor Decker and Penei Sewell are stalwarts, but as Kenyon explained, the team could use more depth at tackle before the season.
Lions Sign Veteran Germain Ifedi
In a way, general manager Brad Holmes has already address the team’s offensive tackle depth. On May 23, the Lions signed former first-round pick and veteran offensive lineman Germain Ifedi.
Ifedi is versatile, but he’s played more than 4,000 snaps at right tackle during his career. If needed, Ifedi could start at right tackle.
He could also play inside, which is likely what drew the Lions to signing him.
Detroit’s offensive line question marks going into this season are on the interior. Center Frank Ragnow revealed to the media on May 18 that he “has no health tissue left” from a toe injury he suffered each of the past two seasons.
Ragnow called the injury “inoperable.” How much he plays in 2023 will depend on his pain tolerance.
Furthermore, right guard Halapoulivaati Vaitai is returning this season after undergoing back surgery in October.
If Ifedi earns a roster spot, he could act as insurance for Vaitai while also providing depth at right tackle.
However, Fleming is a better backup option for left tackle. Ifedi has played four snaps at left tackle during his career while Fleming played 373 snaps at the quarterback’s blindside last year alone.
Fleming would be a solid choice if the Lions are aiming to bring in more backup offensive line competition this summer.