The NFL annual meetings wrapped up in Phoenix this week, and a lot of Lions news came out of them. General manager Bob Quinn, team president Rod Wood and head coach Jim Caldwell all spoke with media at the meetings. Here are the highlights from each of their sessions:
"Our roster isn't complete for this year," Quinn said. "We're still a work in progress. That's a better question for maybe heading into training camp. Right now, I feel good about it.
"Is it perfect? No. Is it the way we want it? No. But we don't have to play a game until September."
Quinn immediately improved the roster, and the offensive line in particular, early on in free agency by bringing in tackle Rick Wagner and guard T.J. Lang.
"I felt very fortunate to get him," Quinn said of Wagner in particular. "He's going to bring a lot to the table. He's going to bring a lot of toughness and size. I think he's equally as good as a run blocker and pass protector."
With Wagner (right tackle) and Lang (right guard) forming the right side of the line, and Travis Swanson (center) and Taylor Decker (left tackle) returning at their respective spots this year, that really just leaves the left guard spot open. Quinn expects good competition there.
One thing is clear though, Quinn isn't going to stop adjusting the roster. In fact, he said the Lions are definitely still open for business in free agency.
"This is kind of a little bit of a lull in the process," he said. "But we're constantly evaluating and looking at our options compared to what might be in the draft and try to make those things kind of come together and make the best possible decisions."
"It's been a good year and a half," Wood said. "We've made a lot of progress, I think. Starting with the changes we made on the football side. Hiring Bob Quinn was a great addition to the organization and the team that he's building underneath him. The early results from last year's draft and free agency and making the playoffs."
On the business side, some of the biggest changes are the upgrades coming to Ford Field for the 2017 season.
"The things we're doing to the stadium are required," Wood said. "Not only to keep the fans that we have but to attract the younger fans who want to come to the game and have access to WiFi and experience their fantasy football experience and stay in touch with people through social media, are things we couldn't do if we didn't enhance the stadium."
CALDWELL: Caldwell nearly made it through his entire media session without being asked about quarterback Matthew Stafford. That's a true testament to how entrenched Stafford is as the Lions' starter and leader.
"Obviously, today you guys look at him differently," Caldwell said, referring to the recognition Stafford has gotten recently. "We always looked at him the exact same way – talented guy that's going to continue to get better.
"Even though we've seen him play well, I think he's going to play better. He's got an extraordinary amount of ability."
An improved run game would certainly help Stafford, and Caldwell knows it.
"Without question we have to just keep trying to improve in that area," Caldwell said. "We have not been nearly as good as we'd like to be. We keep trying to make adjustments to improve in that area. It's something we talk about consistently, and we haven't gotten there yet. That's the fact of the matter.
"But do I think we can get there? Absolutely. Do I think it would help (Stafford) and our overall offense and overall team? Absolutely. And that's what we have to keep striving for."
In addition to Lions news, there was plenty of league news to come out of the annual meetings. The biggest? Probably the Raiders' move to Las Vegas. The next Lions-Raiders regular season game could take place in Oakland or Las Vegas, depending on what happens in 2019.
The NFL also adopted eight new playing rules proposals, three new bylaw proposals and one resolution proposal for the 2017 season. Read through them all here.
FORMER COACHES WEIGH IN
Whenever a free agent joins a new team, it's always interesting to see what their former coaches have to say about them. In the cases of Wagner and Lang, it's all good.
"The Lions are getting a hard-nosed, dedicated guy who cares," Ravens head coach John Harbaugh said of Wagner. "He's quiet. You're not going to get a lot of quotes from Rick Wagner, I'll tell you that, but you are going to get a good, hard day's work.
"I think, obviously, he's one of the best right tackles in the game. That was a good signing for Jim (Caldwell) and the Lions."
Packers head coach Mike McCarthy was equally effusive in his praise of Lang.
"We'll miss T.J.," McCarthy said. "He's one of those players, personally, for me, he will be one of my favorites. I had an opportunity to coach him and watch him grow in all aspects of his life professionally and personally. I'll always look at T.J. as a Green Bay Packer and I definitely enjoyed our time together."
MEET THE PROSPECT
Get to know some of the top players entering the 2017 NFL Draft with Tim Twentyman's Meet the Prospect series. Each week Tim will take a look at three prospects who could make sense for the Lions at 21.
Check out this week's prospects below:
OTHER NOTEWORTHY ITEMS:
- D.J. Hayden is versatile enough to compete at both outside and slot cornerback, and the Lions like the options they have with him.
- Tight end Darren Fells was primarily a blocking specialist with the Cardinals, but the Lions are projecting an expanded role this year.
- Caldwell thinks that after a solid rookie season, tackle Taylor Decker is going to continue to get better and better.