ESPN's Barnwell says Lions had one of worst offseasons in NFL


By most accounts, the Lions won the Matthew Stafford trade. They did well in the draft. And they approached free agency like the rebuilding team that they are.

But if you ask NFL analyst Bill Barnwell of ESPN, the Lions and new GM Brad Holmes had one of the worst offseasons in the NFL. Barnwell ranked Detroit No. 25 in terms of front office decisions over the past several months.

Under the category of 'What went wrong,' Barnwell points to the Lions letting Kenny Golladay depart as a free agent, leaving them "with the worst group of wideouts in football, with the plan to seemingly chuck it deep to Tyrell Williams and Breshad Perriman."

"They also cost themselves a late-round comp pick by signing RB Jamaal Williams and just brought in Todd Gurley for a look; early-down back is not a position that this rebuilding team needs to make a priority," Barnwell writes.

Of course, a No. 1 wide receiver who costs $18 million per year isn't really a priority position for a rebuilding team either. But we digress.

Barnwell also knocked Holmes for turning down trade offers for the No. 7 pick to select OT Penei Sewell:

I love Sewell as a prospect, but the Lions are not one player away from being a contender, and there were plenty of other valuable linemen in the first round. They can't afford to be this confident about individual players in the first draft of a multi-year rebuild.

And he knocked the Lions' brass for giving Campbell a six-year deal:

It's not as if he was the hottest candidate on the market or did wonders as an interim coach in Miami several years ago. If Detroit's rebuild is going to take so long that it needed to give Campbell six years, it should have been trading down at No. 7.

Under the category of 'What they could have done differently,' Barnwell says the Lions should have considered trading Goff for more picks after restructuring his contract, with the possibility of netting a second-rounder.

It wasn't all bad in Barnwell's eyes. He commended the return of two first-round picks in the Stafford trade and likes the new regime's emphasis on building in the trenches.

"Given that the last plan appeared to be simply stacking players the Patriots didn't want to keep around, trying to control the line of scrimmage is at least a theory with a better track record of success."

Still, No. 25 -- seventh worst in the NFL -- feels like a tough grade for a team that could only do so much in the first year of a substantial rebuild.