It’s been an offseason of major changes for the Detroit Lions, and with that has brought a significant roster shakeup. All of a sudden, the team has multiple different players on the roster at several key spots.
Obviously, the team is going to keep making changes in the future as they move through their rebuild, so when that happens, there are going to be more moves which catch the attention of fans in the coming years and perhaps shock them given the stature of players who are moving out.
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Knowing there is a new staff, the Lions want to put their best foot forward this season and see some great performances as a whole, but having that happen might be key for some players more than others. Another tough year, and many players could be on the verge of getting shipped out of town.
Which players are facing the most pressure to have a good 2021 year to avoid being shipped out of town? Here’s a look at the players facing the most heat this season.
Jahlani Tavai, Linebacker
Not much has gone right for Tavai since he joined the team as a surprise second-round draft pick in 2019. He’s looked slow and out of position, and many already wanted to see him move on as a result. The staff hasn’t pulled the plug yet, and could be looking at keeping Tavai around for the future given how well he has shown up to camp and their recent commentary. There’s no question that Tavai is trending more toward being a bust at this point, and if he has another bad year, the Lions might not hesitate to replace him with someone else who can get the job done.
Trey Flowers, Defensive End
Flowers signed one of the biggest contracts in the league for a lineman a few offseasons back, and his production in Detroit has hardly matched the deal. With just 9 sacks in his Detroit career, Flowers hasn’t put the defense on his back as many had hoped since the move from New England, so the Lions will be looking to see if he can get that done in a bigger way with a role shakeup in 2021. He’s provided great leadership and has been an asset to the locker room, but sadly, that is only half of the business in the NFL. If Flowers struggles this season, the Lions could move on quick next year to attempt to save even more money for the future. There’s a lot riding on 2021 for the veteran pass rusher.
Will Harris, Safety
Detroit has made plenty of renovations to their defense, including big time renovations to the cornrback group. One spot they. didn’t touch was safety, and between Tracy Walker and Harris, the pressure seems more applied to the latter rather than the former at this point in time. Harris was another high draft gamble of Bob Quinn, and if he doesn’t earn a bigger role with some solid play, the staff may want to get another veteran in the mix they can trust or draft someone else for the future at the spot in the year ahead. Harris is going to have to earn a role fast and then manage to keep it.
Jamie Collins, Linebacker
The Lions didn’t completely overhaul the linebacker spot as many assumed they might, and Collins was one of the few holdovers from the previous regime. That could be the case simply because he plays such a key position on the roster and the Lions didn’t want to have to patch too many holes this offseason. Without a big season in 2021, Collins opens himself up to being a veteran casualty in the future given the upgrades the Lions could eventually choose at linebacker.
Nick Williams, Defensive Tackle
The Lions have made tons of moves along the defensive line thus far, and that can only mean more pressure for those left on the roster. Williams is manning a key spot in the middle of the line and his release could save Detroit a few million dollars. If Alim McNeill and Levi Onwuzurike come on strong early, could Williams be next to go? That’s been in the rumor mill already, but if he stays, he will need to make a much bigger statistical impact on the team than he has in recent years in order to justify a role. It’s suddenly a crowded front, and Williams’ job just got even tougher in 2021.