Detroit Lions new general manager Brad Holmes passed on adding a quarterback in the 2021 NFL Draft, including Justin Fields and Mac Jones, who were on the board when the club selected offensive tackle Penei Sewell No. 7 overall.
In doing so, the Lions brass left Jared Goff as the unencumbered QB1 in Detroit.
Goff told reporters Thursday that he’d discussed with the team brass about the possibility a quarterback could be drafted.
“We had some talks before the draft,” Goff said. “Again, I think it’s a nice vote of confidence obviously for me. I think what’s not lost on me is their first move as a staff, Brad and (coach) Dan (Campbell), involved me. It’s exciting, and it makes you feel good.”
The Lions signaled that QB wasn’t high on their priority list when they converted $20 million of Goff’s 2021 salary into a signing bonus, essentially tying him to the club for the next two seasons (Detroit would take a dead-cap hit of $30-plus-million by cutting him in 2022).
The rebuilding Lions will head toward training camp with former Green Bay Packers preseason favorite Tim Boyle and David Blough behind Goff.
After earning back-to-back Pro Bowls and helping the Rams to the Super Bowl, Goff fell out of favor in L.A., particularly struggling to push the ball downfield in 2020. With the rebuilding Lions, Goff has a chance to quiet the critics.
With a receiver corps headlined by Breshad Perriman, Tyrell Williams, Kalif Raymond, Quintez Cephus and fourth-round pick Amon-Ra St. Brown, Goff’s job will be difficult on a fixer-upper Lions squad.
With the selection of Sewell and Thursday’s news of a contract extension for center Frank Ragnow, the QB does have the luxury of one of the better offensive lines in football in front of him.
“Fired up, fired up,” Goff said of the Sewell selection. “When I saw we took Penei, I know the staff was fired up, and so was I obviously as a quarterback. Any time you get help up front, that’s always good. We got a lot of solid guys up there right now, and I think it’s shaping up to hopefully be one of the top groups in the league. There’s obviously a lot of work to do, and I know they know that. But there’s a lot of good players up there right now, and as a quarterback, that’s your best friend. So I’m excited for it.”
With the O-line a strength of the roster, the Lions should be a run-first, play-action squad with Goff under center. Given the defensive deficiencies and the lack of talent elsewhere, Detroit could be a tough watch in 2021 as it enters Year 1 of its rebuild under Holmes and Campbell.
With the low expectations and no competition for a rookie QB, Goff can play free of burden in his chance to turn his career back around.
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