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ESPN: Lions merit 'C' for offseason doings

The Detroit News

ESPN’s Bill Barnwell grades NFC North teams on their offseason activities and gives the Lions a flat C.

Isn’t that what a teacher usually hands out for just showing up to class?

The Packers earned the highest grade, a B-, while the Vikings received a C+ and the Bears a C-. The full story is here.

The ESPN writer lauds the Lions' front office for investing in the offensive line, even it “swapped out one line side, allowing Larry Warford and Riley Reiff to leave in the free agency and replacing them with a pair of high-ticket items (RT Rick Wagner and RG T.J. Lang).”

Wagner, who previously played with the Ravens, will earn $29.5 million over the first three years of his contract. Lang, a former Eastern Michigan standout who played for the Packers, has $19 million of his $28.5 million guaranteed on his three-year deal, Barnwell notes.

Barnwell continues: “General Manager Bob Quinn will pay Lang that $19 million over two years and either have to hand Lang an extension if he works out or watch him hit free agency again after the 2019 season. These are defensible moves — Lang has been one of the best guards in the league, and Wagner is a solid right tackle — but there is risk.”

Under his “What went wrong” category, the ESPN writer knocks the team for not signing quarterback Matthew Stafford and defensive end Ezekiel Ansah to extensions. Stafford will eventually sign, most figure, but Ansah’s lack of a deal is puzzling.

Barnwell writes: “The Lions could theoretically franchise Ansah twice and pay him something in the ballpark of $53 million over the next three years, which gives them some leverage in terms of cost savings. In addition, Ansah is coming off a down season, producing just two sacks while missing the better part of four games with a high ankle sprain. This should be the best time to lock up the pass-rusher, given that the Lions would be buying relatively low.”