Sat, 31 Jul 2021

Mike OHara

Brad Holmes has a favorite saying about the challenge facing him as general manager of the Detroit Lions.

It is no easy task for Holmes, head coach Dan Campbell and their staff to renovate a team that finished last in the NFC North the last three years and won only 14 games.

"We had a lot of work to do when Dan and I first got in this chair," Holmes said in an interview with Detroitlions.com. "Just on the roster. I mean a ton of work -- on both sides of the ball.

"It's easy to say more work defensively (it was historically bad in 2020), but we had work to do at all the skill positions, especially when Matt (Stafford) wanted the trade."

By most accounts, it has been a productive offseason in shoring up the roster and setting the Lions up in the future with two additional first-round draft picks in the trade that sent Matthew Stafford to the Rams for Jared Goff in an exchange of quarterbacks.

The bottom line: Holmes didn't do everything he wanted to do in his first offseason as GM of the Lions, but he did what he could do.

"I've said it all the time, and I'll probably always say this: It's not enough," Holmes said. "I'm just used to saying that.

"There's still a lot left to do. I don't think there's a point in this league when it's ever truly enough. You can always add more depth, especially with the way the game keeps changing."

The Stafford-Goff trade and getting offensive tackle Penei Sewell of Oregon in the draft were the highlight moves of the Lions' offseason.

In Goff, the Lions got a quarterback who was drafted first overall in 2016 and had a 42-20 won-loss record the last four regular seasons with three playoff appearances and two Pro Bowls.

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Holmes was instrumental in the Rams' drafting Goff in his role as director of college scouting. He looks at Goff as a potential long-term starter for the Lions, not a stop gap.

"I never viewed him as a bridge option," Holmes said. "He's been a winning quarterback. I think his resume speaks for itself."

The offensive line was already a strength. Drafting Sewell seventh overall made it stronger.

Holmes would have liked to draft a wide receiver, but Sewell was the player he coveted based on who was on the board at the time he drafted.

The potential of having a dominant offensive line was too good to pass on.

"We couldn't be more thrilled with landing Penei," Holmes said. "That's the direction we went."

The defense has not been ignored. Defensive lineman Michael Brockers of the Rams was acquired in a trade. Four players were taken in the draft -- linemen Levi Onwuzurike (second round) and Alim McNeill (third), cornerback Ifeatu Melifonwu (third) and linebacker Derrick Barnes (fourth).

There were other additions in free agency, among them wide receivers Tyrell Williams and Breshad Perriman, running back Jamaal Williams, tight end Darren Fells, cornerback Quinton Dunbar and linebacker Alex Anzalone.

Holmes avoided signing aging veterans to big contracts. That would eat up cap money that could be better used in future seasons.

"Dan and I set out a plan we felt really, really good about," Holmes said. "We knew the resources that we were operating with. Let's be as aggressive as possible and be as smart as possible.

"We didn't feel like we were reckless at all. We definitely didn't think we had our foot off the gas or on the break pedal at all.

"I think we maximized with what we had to work with."

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