The Detroit Lions have some things to consider on the roster in the next few months, and in order to be financially solvent, it’s likely there are going to have to be some big changes for the team.
So what change is the biggest they should be making? It’s not an easy answer considering the retooling the team needs to do in multiple ways this offseason. Recently, though, ESPN analysts discussed the moves that could be made in order to slice problematic contracts and find struggling players from rosters across the league a new start.
Analyst Michael Rothstein wrote from the Detroit perspective and proposed that James needs a change in scenery the most for next season. The reason? Not only his contract, but his production.
“It’s not clear whether the new regime will hold on to the tight end whom former general manager Bob Quinn gave a four-year, $22.6 million contract in 2019. James has averaged fewer than one catch per game (30 catches in 32 games) and has two total touchdowns in two seasons. With T.J. Hockenson clearly in command at the position, it might be best for both parties to move on. The caveat will be new offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn’s offense. If two-tight end sets are something he favors, James could stick around and get a fresh start that way. But it might be best for Detroit to consider another option.”
Obviously, there’s a long way to go before Detroit’s cuts are in and anybody is officially given up on, but James could be a good pick to potentially move on. He hasn’t been able to produce much in the last pair of seasons, but it’s possible that could change with a new team.
For right now though, James is seen as the player most in need of a change in scenery by some.
Lions Tight End Depth
One thing that could work in the favor of James is the fact that the Lions don’t have great depth at tight end. T.J. Hockenson is entrenched on the roster, but beyond that, there isn’t much at all. Hunter Bryant was injured much of last season and is better as a receiver, and the team just signed Alize Mack, but he doesn’t have any NFL production to rely on at this point in time.
If the Lions give up on James, they will have to have a replacement ready and waiting, or may have to look to draft somebody or pick up a low cost free agent.
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Jesse James Stats
When James signed as a free agent a few offseasons ago, there was some excitement that he could provide the depth needed in order to turn things around on the field for the offense. Exactly the opposite has been true for the Lions and for James himself, who has struggled to make any type of a sizable impact on the field since joining Detroit. In the last two seasons, James has only 271 yards and 2 touchdowns with the Lions on 30 receptions. He’s hardly justified the big contract that he signed in the 2018 offseason.
In Pittsburgh, James put up 1,189 yards, 9 touchdowns and 120 receptions, so the thinking was that he would be a much bigger part of the plan. It’s possible that James can turn over a new leaf with a new offensive coordinator, but it’s possible his big price tag could become a deal breaker for the team considering his production.