New GM Brad Holmes stresses Lions need retooling, not a rebuild
New Lions general manager Brad Holmes didn't offer many specifics about his first priorities for the team's roster now that he's been hired, but he made one important thing clear during his introductory news conference — he's not looking at tearing it all down and starting from scratch.
"Please don’t get mad at me if I don’t use the word rebuild, if I just continue to pivot towards retool," Holmes said, when asked specifically about the defense, which was the worst in franchise history in 2020. "I do think that there are some building blocks on this defense currently.
"Obviously, we will address that side of the ball just like we will address the offensive side of the ball," Holmes continued. "There’s no area that we won’t work to improve in, but I do think that that there are some good young talented pieces that are still in their phase of developing. I do think that there’s some veterans that have brought good production to the table.
"So I would definitely say that we’re definitely gonna retool in some areas but there are some building blocks there."
Holmes went on to say his immediate goal is fielding the most competitive team he can in 2021.
Fixing the defense is obviously critical to Detroit's future success, but the biggest decision Holmes faces, and one that will truly signifies whether or not the franchise is rebuilding, will be what he does with quarterback Matthew Stafford.
The longtime face of the franchise has two years remaining on his contract, but also carries a cap hit of $33 million in 2021. The Lions could save $14 million in cap space if they move him this offseason, and holding a top-10 draft pick conceivable offers a viable path to find a replacement.
Holmes hasn't talked to Stafford yet but offered an unsurprisingly glowing assessment when asked about the thoughts of his quarterback.
"Matthew, great player, and what you really appreciate is, I think the talent is easy to see, but you really appreciate how his intangibles show up on film," Holmes said. "Just how urgent he plays, how competitive he is, the toughness he shows. But it is my job to evaluate the entire roster, and through that process I have not had any discussions with Matt or any players for that matter. So I just want to be fair to the process to make sure we evaluate that thoroughly. But obviously, Matt, very good football player."
Ultimately, as part of his collaborative approach to building a team, Holmes said he wants to construct a roster in the to-be-named head coach's vision. All personnel decisions the GM makes will be based around that.
"Immediately, once the coach is on board, I want to make sure that we sit down and make sure that I am in direct alignment in full understanding of what his philosophy is and what his vision is," Holmes said. "I’ve always had this question of, well, what is your vision of the team? Well, I can tell you what I want it to look like, but truly it is the head coach’s vision. He’s the face of the team, he’s the voice of the team, so I want to make sure, like I was saying about the service role as a GM, I want to make sure that I’m providing the head coach with the best resources possible to make sure his system and philosophy is running at an elite level."