Lions make their first big splash in free agency.
Bob Quinn showed he means business Wednesday, as the Lions made their first major splash of free agency during the legal tampering period. Ricky Wagner will sign a contract with Detroit worth roughly $9 million a year on average, the terms and length of which have not yet been made available at the time of this posting. Wagner is coming off a dominant season at right tackle in Baltimore, widely regarded as one of the top players at his position and arguably the best option on the market. He excels both in pass and run blocking, and comes from a zone system in Baltimore allowing him to quickly adjust to his new home in Detroit. While there will be some change coming over to the Lions for Wagner with All Pro guard Marshall Yanda no longer on his inside shoulder, but he should still be a day one positional upgrade. At his dollar value he’s right at projected market price as well which offers the bonus that Quinn didn’t overpay for this crucial position. Even if you are concerned about the price tag, the entire left side of the line is on rookie contracts for the next three years, making it a relatively affordable amount when you think of the offensive line as a whole. Wagner will also have to build on his consistency, ensuring he builds on his 2016 form and doesn’t regress as was the case in 2015. Regardless this will help Detroit better protect their franchise quarterback Matthew Stafford and open up more room for the run game, making it a big win for the Lions.
Unfortunately though, this also likely spells the end for Riley Reiff in Detroit. The 2012 first round draft pick was a solid if unspectacular player for Detroit in most of his career on both the left and right sides of the offensive line. While we are sad to see him go, Reiff will surely find greener pastures (and good money) on the open market. As one of the best young tackles remaining in a brutally scarce OT market in both free agency and the draft, he will get a very nice pay day somewhere else in the league.
With this type of move on the books already before free agency has even began, Lions fans should be excited for more to come as the free agent scramble rolls on.