Custom Graham Glasgow Jersey Large

The Detroit Lions had numerous opportunities and ample salary cap space to sign starting right guard Graham Glasgow to a contract extension. Glasgow indicated a willingness to sign one, too.

But it never happened, and now the four-year starter is going to be a free agent. It seems that is what the Lions wanted. And while it might be frustrating to see a quality veteran starter walk out the door, I believe it’s the right decision for the Lions.

Glasgow is a perfectly fine starter, but what he offers is not irreplaceable. And for the price tag it would take to keep Glasgow in Detroit, the money to replace him will be better spent on upgrades at other positions of much greater impact.

Based on some recent guards of comparable ability, Glasgow figures to sign for around $7-8 million per season. That’s what guys like Zach Fulton (Texans), Billy Turner (Packers) and Jamon Brown (Falcons) have signed for in the past 12 months. Glasgow is slightly better than any of those guys and could command closer to $9 million per year on average.

That’s a lot of money to spend on a position where the Lions clearly don’t value continuity, And the guard rotation they deployed all season, with Glasgow, Joe Dahl and Kenny Wiggins shuffling in and out of the lineup, is a very strong indication the Lions don’t value continuity up front. In a recent press conference, head coach Matt Patricia spoke very favorably about the guard rotation system, pegging it a great success.

I might disagree with that notion completely, but my opinion does not matter. What matters is that Patricia and the Lions obviously feel good enough about rotating that paying a free agent premium for the guard position makes no financial sense to the team. It’s better to let someone else pay Glasgow the bigger money than for the Lions to pony up that kind of cash and continue to pay so much for a part-time player.

Do I think it’s smart to let Glasgow leave? No, I do not. I would have signed him months ago. But based on the Bob Quinn/Patricia vision of their Lions, it makes perfect sense to let Glasgow test free agency and let the market set his value. If he doesn’t find greener grass elsewhere, and he might not, Glasgow could return for less than the expected going rate. That’s a gamble the Lions are willing to take, and I believe they’re smart to take it.

The line is built around center Frank Ragnow and tackles Taylor Decker and Rick Wagner. Ragnow is one of the best in the league at his position, while Decker and Wagner are no worse than average starters. Those positions, center and tackle, are more critical to a team’s success. While ignoring guard is stupid, it’s the best place on the offensive line to have a relative weakness.

There will be cheaper options available in free agency, as well as potential to snag a possible replacement in the middle rounds of the draft. That’s how Glasgow came to Detroit in the first place, to replace the more expensive Laken Tomlinson (traded away) and Larry Warford (free agency). He’s been just as good as Warford and better than Tomlinson was in Detroit for far cheaper.

The Lions are banking on replicating that cycle. It’s the smart decision. Use that extra money on a higher-grade wide receiver to replace free agent-to-be Danny Amendola, or a higher-end cornerback in free agency to pair with Darius Slay and Amani Oruwariye. It could be the difference between signing perennial Pro Bowler Chris Harris or bringing back Nevin Lawson, as a hypothetical example. That’s a tradeoff every Lions fan should embrace.

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