Lions 'want to see all the guys,' will maintain full 90-man roster for now

Justin Rogers
The Detroit News

With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the NFL provided teams two options heading into training camp — trim your roster to 80 players before players report or split your team into two groups until reducing to 80 in the middle of August. 

The Detroit Lions have opted for the latter option and general manager Bob Quinn explained why during a video conference with reporters Wednesday morning. 

Cornerback Jeff Okudah was the top pick in the 2020 NFL Draft.

"Not to get too much detail, but we want to see all the guys we have on the roster," Quinn said. "We feel like everybody in the roster has has something to show off and they're here for a reason. We have a small rookie class, as you guys know, so when we constructed the roster in March and April, we kind of envisioned maybe a scenario like this, that we wouldn't have much of an offseason.

"We wanted to kind of get a few more veterans on the team," Quinn added. "We want to evaluate those guys for the amount of time that we have. Secondly, and probably more importantly, is for the first little bit of camp, we're going to do things in definitely that split-squad scenario, so we're not going to have everybody in the building at the same time. We're going to do virtual meetings, they're going to come into their workouts and we'll stagger it. So we're going to try to keep the distance as much as much as possible before we have what we call real practice starting in that that second and third phase."

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It wasn't that the Lions' draft class was small. The team made nine selections in April. But Quinn was conservative in the hours and days following the draft, adding only seven undrafted free agents, well short of the team's typical number. 

Another aspect of the roster-building equation Quinn is still navigating is how transactions will work. He's still waiting to hear from the league how signings, trades and waiver claims will be handled.

The general manager has always aggressively churned the bottom of Detroit's roster, in a constant search for improvement. But in a scenario where there's a steady risk of players testing positive for COVID-19, on top of an increased potential for injuries following an abbreviated offseason that was conducted virtually, it's an area Quinn is anxious for direction from the league. 

"That's like my biggest question, right?" Quinn said. "As it stands right now, we cannot bring a player in for a tryout. ... We could bring somebody in through physical and send them to our doctor's office off-site, but we cannot physically see that person here or work them out. That's gonna be a challenge, and then the onboarding process of, you know, claiming a player, trading for a player, signing a free agent during the season, all that stuff, honestly, I don't have a lot of information on that, they haven't told us.

"That's a big question I think everybody in my seat or around the league is like waiting for more guidance on."