Why Ryan Grant Would Be a Sensible Insurance Policy for the Detroit Lions

Chris MaddenAnalyst IIMay 3, 2012

Could Ryan Grant be the Answer?
Could Ryan Grant be the Answer?

According to this article from ESPN Wisconsin, Ryan Grant of the Green Bay Packers has been offered a deal by the Detroit Lions.

His agent, Alan Herman, reportedly said Grant is mulling over offers from both Detroit and the New England Patriots.

Grant has been a productive player for the Lambeau leapers. The veteran out of Notre Dame has amassed good numbers: 4,016 yards, 25 touchdowns and a 4.3-yard average in five years of NFL duty.

He was bitten by the injury bug in 2010 though. He missed the entire season with leg and ankle injuries and watched James Starks take over his starting job.

Showing resiliency, he bounced back in 2011 and played in 16 games (regular season and playoffs combined). It was a time-share situation with Starks. His total yards were down for the year, but his yards per carry were right around his average of 4.2.

While there is no guarantee Grant will sign on the dotted line with Detroit, it sure makes sense that the Lions are pursuing him.

Here's why.

Detroit's running back situation is murky at best. Although Jahvid Best will reportedly be cleared to resume contact in June, with his concussion history, the Lions cannot count on him for much.

In fact, they almost have to plan for the season as if he's not going to be there.

Mikel Leshoure, the projected starter, is unproven and coming off a serious Achilles injury that cost him his entire rookie season. Is he still the player Detroit drafted? No one will know until he plays in real-game action.

Kevin Smith was Detroit's uber-backup last season and was single-handedly responsible for the team's victory against the Carolina Panthers. Yet anyone from Detroit will tell you he cannot be counted on for a full season of action either.

Fragile is putting it nicely.

Ryan Grant is a player that has been dinged up in the past as well—as said, he missed all of 2010.

On one hand, I can understand some fans screaming from the rafters for the Lions to avoid him like the plague.

However, running back is a position that carries inherent risk—more so than any other position in football. The life span of an NFL rusher is particularly short, and any fan that thinks the Lions are going to find a magical ball-carrier with a clean bill of health is having a pipe dream.

The one place that player might have been found was the draft and we all know that ship has sailed.

As far as injuries go, Grant is no different than any other free-agent running back. In fact, he is better than most. He demonstrated last season that he's recovered from the injuries that previously plagued him.

He's also more of an every-down type of rusher who's capable of effectively running up the middle, around the edge or catching balls out of the backfield. That is what the Lions have lacked.

While his stats don't jump off the page at you, with closer inspection they are impressive nonetheless.

When given the opportunity he has produced. In five games last season he was given double-digit carries and in those games he averaged 64 yards and 5.1 yards per carry. He added two touchdowns.

Those numbers are equal to or better than any other option out there for Detroit.

Better yet, Grant can be had for a reasonable price. Detroit would not be pursuing him if that weren't the case.

Lastly, stealing him from the cheeseheads would be poetic justice for all the long suffering Lions fans. Especially if he were to help Detroit defeat the Packers in 2012.

The Lions should actually challenge Green Bay for NFC North supremacy, and the addition of Grant could add even more drama to an already heated rivalry.

Ultimately only time will tell if this deal comes to fruition. While it might not be the flashy option that some fans want, it is a logical one. They should expect no less from Martin Mayhew and company.