The Detroit Lions seemingly have managed to turn around their defense already this offseason, but one more move might only make things better ahead of a vital 2022 season.
If the Lions have newfound depth up front, one more big-time player could help their line go from interesting to elite, and that’s just what Bleacher Report sees as a must as the offseason quiet period begins ahead of training camp starting in over a month’s time.
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At this point, there is no shortage of players who might be in unhappy situations across the league, and one of the bigger names is Washington Commanders lineman Daron Payne. Payne could be on his way out after the team drafted Phidarian Mathis up front in 2022, and if he is, this is a deal the Lions should be all over according to Ian Wharton. Wharton made a suggestion for one trade every team in the league could make before camp, and this was a selection for the Lions.
As Wharton wrote, Detroit should send veteran Michael Brockers and a 2023 second-round pick to Washington for Payne, who has been “dominant” in his short time in the league.
“Payne, who just turned 25 years old, would spend his prime years in Detroit after this trade and an extension. A defensive core featuring Aidan Hutchinson and Payne could be dominant for years to come,” he said.
Such a move would not be without some risk for Detroit. Payne is a free agent come 2023, so the team may have trouble re-signing him before the start of the season. Kicking in a second-round pick in such a deal could be something Detroit doesn’t want to do for a lineman, which is already a roster strength. Wharton seems to think such a trade could come with an extension, though, mitigating some of that risk on the Lions’ end.
If the Lions added Payne, it would only serve to make Detroit’s line look more menacing in the end. That should be enough to encourage a deal according to Wharton.
Payne’s Career Stats & Highlights
Since coming into the league as a first-round pick out of Alabama during the 2018 offseason, Payne has been a solid player in the NFL statistically as well as a guy who takes up plenty of space along a defensive front. While Payne has not played in a Pro Bowl or been an All-Pro yet, he has been a statistical force with 14.5 sacks and 227 tackles during his first four years in the league. He’s also shown he can be active in other ways, logging 4 forced fumbles and 1 interception. That could make Payne the kind of well-rounded lineman the Lions could crave for their future. Here’s a look at some of his greatest hits from last season:
Payne certainly moves around well up front, and he is the kind of player that Detroit could still build around at 25 years old. For these reasons, many see Payne as a good possible addition in Detroit.
Lions Defensive Line Already Deep for 2022
Detroit has added interesting pieces to the mix that figure to help them in a big way during the new year on defense, especially up front. The Lions will have Romeo Okwara coming back off injury, and witnessed the emergence of his brother Julian Okwara in 2021. Additionally, Detroit has 2021 picks Levi Onwuzurike and Alim McNeill looking primed to take their next steps. In the 2022 NFL draft, the team added Aidan Hutchinson and Josh Paschal, who figure to be instant contributors. Sixth-round pick James Houston may also offer something. Brockers, if he sticks, and Charles Harris will return to provide some punch up front, and young players like Jashon Cornell and 2021 camp standout Bruce Hector will also be scrapping for roles. Add it up and the neighborhood is very tough and deep at this position.
It wouldn’t be a stretch to see Detroit’s defensive line being one of the deepest units on the team in 2022, so would Detroit even need this trade? Some think it would only serve to make the roster stronger for the future.