Detroit Lions: Backup QB remains a question after one week of free agency


The Detroit Lions and GM Brad Holmes were active during the first week of NFL free agency. Holmes wasted no time re-signing defensive lineman Isaiah Buggs and running back Craig Reynolds. He also tendered five exclusive rights free agents before the start of the negotiation period.

Cornerback Cam Sutton was the team’s first outside free agent signing of the offseason. Corner Emmanuel Moseley, running back David Montgomery and guard Graham Glasgow are among the other big free-agent signings by Holmes. So far, nearly every signing Holmes and Detroit’s front office has made addresses a position of need.

The Detroit Lions need to find a backup QB

One position the Lions have not addressed yet is backup quarterback. The only quarterback currently under contract with the Lions is Jared Goff. Nate Sudfeld, the team’s backup in 2022, remains a free agent. Sudfeld joined the Lions just before the start of the 2022 regular season. He took nine snaps and threw zero attempts through two appearances.

In his six-year career, Sudfeld has thrown for 188 yards, a touchdown and an interception. He has taken snaps in just six games. The 29-year-old is unproven as a backup quarterback, and there are no reports indicating the Lions currently plan on bringing him back for the 2023 season.

Holmes and head coach Dan Campbell know they need to find a backup quarterback early this offseason. Both addressed the need at the scouting combine.

“I feel like last year we kind of left training camp kind of sliding into home plate trying to fill that backup quarterback role,” Holmes said. “So, that is something that we’re gonna need to address, whether it’s here in free agency or upcoming in the draft.”

“We believe we can win with Jared Goff,” Campbell said in a recent interview. “We also know he is not going to be here for the next 10 years. Certainly, our eyes are on potentially a quarterback. The question is where do you acquire that at?”

The Detroit Lions can address backup QB in free agency

The place the Lions can look to find a sure thing at the backup quarterback position is through free agency. However, this late in the process, their options are limited.

Taylor Heinicke, Gardner Minshew and Jacoby Brissett are all off the open market. Andy Dalton, Case Keenum and Mike white are gone too.

Carson Wentz and Matt Ryan are both available. However, Ryan is unlikely to accept anything less than a starting job, and Wentz is Wentz.

The best backup quarterback still available may be Teddy Bridgewater. The 30-year-old has proven he can take care of the football. He does not take many risks and often settles for check-downs. That is fine for a backup quarterback, especially for a team with a strong running game. Bridgewater can keep a team afloat for a game or two. He certainly beats settling for a 38-year-old Joe Flacco.

Nathan Peterman, Mason Rudolph and John Wolford are other names that could be of interest. However. re-signing Sudfeld on a non-guaranteed contract and drafting a quarterback could be the ultimate route the Lions take.

The Detroit Lions have plenty of backup QB options in the draft

With so many positions of need addressed early in free agency, the Lions have a lot of flexibility with how they decide to attack the draft. The team no longer needs to take one of the draft’s top cornerbacks in the first round, but they still could.

There is a lot of talent at the quarterback position near the top of the draft. The Lions own the sixth pick, and if the right guy falls to them, they could pull the trigger on taking a potential franchise signal caller.

C.J. Stroud has received buzz as the possible first-overall pick, especially since the Panthers acquired it from the Bears. Bryce Young is unlikely to fall outside the top two selections. Will Levis is at the top of some teams’ draft boards, but he is also outside the first round on others. Anthony Richardson may have the best physical tools of any quarterback in this year’s class, but he also needs the most seasoning before he is ready to take over as a starter.

Tanner Mckee and Hendon Hooker are potential targets in the second or third rounds. Both players have starter upside, but they may not ever become high-end starters. In the later rounds, the Likes of Stetson Bennett, Clayton Tune, Jaren Hall and Aidan O’Connell could be potential long-term backups.

All indications point to the Lions selecting a quarterback in the upcoming draft. With Goff playing at a Pro Bowl level, the team does not need to take a swing in the first round. However, if Holmes finds himself high on one of the top guys in this year’s class, there is no reason to hesitate to select him with the sixth pick. Otherwise, it is likely the team finds a guy to develop into a backup and potential starter in the later rounds.

(Featured Image Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports)