By: Will Burchfield
It’s been about two months since the Lions’ 2016 season came to an end in Seattle, and Bob Quinn has gone from looking back to looking ahead.
“Really excited about the direction the team’s going,” said the Lions GM at the NFL scouting combine on Wednesday. “Had a productive couple of months here of looking back at the season, seeing what we need, seeing what we want to do in the future, and excited to get back into scouting and looking at the free agents and draft picks.”
Here are five takeaways from Quinn’s first meeting with the media since his end-of-the-season comments in January.
1. All Quiet On The Stafford Front
If Matthew Stafford, whose contract expires after the 2017 season, is going to get an extension, it’s unlikely to happen anytime soon.
“We have not talked to Matthew and his representatives. I think that’s something that eventually we will get to, but we’re kind of taking it one step at a time with the current free agent class, the current draft class,” Quinn said. “These things don’t usually happen in April or May, that’s not a realistic timeline for an extension for a quarterback, but that’s something that we do have on the agenda. Hopefully we’ll be able to have some discussions.”
It was rumored last season that Stafford was seeking an extension worth more than $25 million per season, a notion he quickly shot down. Either way, the Lions will have to pony up to keep their quarterback in town.
“I’m not making any promises one way or another, but I’ve always said since I’ve gotten year that I think Matthew’s a good quarterback and I’d like to have him long term,” said Quinn. “And that hasn’t changed.
2. All Quiet On The Ebron Front
Quinn took the same stance in regard to tight end Eric Ebron, who’s entering the final season of the four-year contract he signed in 2014.
“Eric has one more year left so we haven’t any discussions going forward,” Quinn said, before adding Ebron has to “show consistency” to warrant a new deal.
“Eric’s a really talented player and he does a lot of things well. We’ve had a lot of conversations with him, not only myself but the coaching staff, of things he needs to improve on…So this is just the beginning of the process for Eric to see if he can take it to that next step. We’re open to talking about an extension, but I think that’s months down the line,” Quinn said.
Ebron posted career highs in receptions (61) and receiving yards (711) last season, but finished with just one touchdown.
3. Rudock Taking Over
The Lions released Dan Orlovsky last month, signaling Jake Rudock was ready to take over as backup quarterback. Quinn confirmed that theory on Wednesday.
“Jake had a good rookie year, started off on the practice squad, had a really good preseason and we made the decision to kind of give him every shot to be the No. 2 quarterback,” said Quinn. “So in the offseason program, in the OTAs and hopefully into training camp, he’s going to get every opportunity to earn that job.”
Rudock was the Lions’ sixth-round draft pick in 2016 after excelling as a graduate transfer at Michigan.
4. Levy Ready To Go
Linebacker DeAndre Levy played in just five games last season, sidelined by hip and knee injuries. The Lions were evasive about his health for much of the year, but Quinn is confident the former All-Pro will be good to go in 2017.
“DeAndre had a challenging year through the injuries. He worked extremely hard behind the scenes to try and get back, and it was just a couple of things that kept him out of the lineup. As of today, I feel like he’ll be back next year,” Quinn said.
5. Mixon Still On The Board
Despite assaulting a woman last December, Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon remains on the Lions draft board.
“We’re going to leave the door open on Joe,” Quinn said, later adding, “I’d like to be able to get a chance to sit down with the people that know Joe – or Joe – and kind of see what the circumstances were around the incident.”
Quinn chided the NFL for denying Mixon an invite to the combine.
“I think it’s really disappointing that Joe’s not here,” he said. “We come here to see the best college football players in the (country). There’s 330, 340 some-odd players here and for him not being here, because of those issues, personally I don’t think that’s real fair.”