Winner: Lions upgrade offensive line
Before injuring his finger last season, Matthew Stafford was having one of his finest seasons as a pro. But uncertainty loomed as the team looked ahead.
Entering free agency, the Detroit Lions had to decide how to address the offensive line, which had two starters set to hit the market. Rather than re-invest in guard Larry Warford and offensive tackle Riley Reiff, however, general manager Bob Quinn made the decision to let both of them walk, targeting two others instead.
That decision, on paper, appears to have been a stroke of genius.
While Warford and Reiff were both very solid players, the two men who come in to replace them at left guard and right tackle are even better, especially when it comes to pass protection.
First, Quinn landed the best right tackle on the market in Rick Wagner, whose value priced him out of re-upping with the Baltimore Ravens. Then, in a move that acts as a two-fold victory for Detroit, the Lions hauled in left guard T.J. Lang, which also weakened their NFC North rival Green Bay Packers (more on that in a bit).
These moves by themselves make Detroit a big winner this year. The Lions also added tight end Darren Fells, linebacker Paul Worrilow and defensive tackle Akeem Spence, all of whom could contribute in significant ways next season.