His 798 yards were nearly 400 more than the next-best rusher on the team. It seemed 2013 would be a year for him to become an even bigger part of the offense.
That hasn't been the case.
During the offseason, the Lions brought in free agent running back Reggie Bush. They also allowed Joique Bell to leapfrog Leshoure on the depth chart.
Being relegated to the third string, Leshoure has carried just twice in six games. What made the coaching staff sour on him?
It's probably nothing Leshoure did. The fact that Detroit relies heavily on the passing game is the biggest reason for Leshoure slowly being phased out.
Bush and Bell are both excellent in the passing game. Leshoure simply doesn't fit in the offense anymore.
In six games, the Lions have thrown the ball on 61 percent of their offensive snaps. Of the 150 passes completed by quarterback Matthew Stafford, 44 have gone to running backs.
Leshoure is a different kind of back. Though he can catch the ball, he's best used as a short-yardage runner who will fight for those extra yards.
Apparently, those aren't the skills this Lions team is looking for. However, there are several teams in need of a running back who could be seriously interested in obtaining Leshoure.
With less than two weeks until the official NFL trading deadline, teams around the league could come calling for the services of Leshoure. If they do, Detroit should see what they can get in return.
Here is a look at some of the teams who could use Leshoure along with what the Lions may be able to get in return.
Although obtaining a future draft pick would be the most likely scenario, it's more fun to see who the Lions could add to their roster immediately.
The Steelers have one of the league's worst running back situations. However, there seems to be a glimmer of hope. Rookie Le'Veon Bell has bee productive following an injury that sidelined him to start the season.
Still, the Steelers don't have much of anything behind Bell.
They traded for former first-round draft pick Felix Jones, but he seems to be well past his prime. Isaac Redman, who started the season at running back, has rushed for 12 yards on 10 carries.
Then there's Jonathan Dwyer, who the team cut after training camp, only to re-sign once they realized just how bad the running game was.
Leshoure would be a perfect fit in the Pittsburgh offense, which has traditionally focused heavily on the running game. Leshoure and Bell could combine to form a very physical rushing attack.
A player like Kelvin Beachum or Guy Whimper would make sense for the Lions to get in return in order to add depth to their offensive line. But having troubles on the offensive line themselves, Pittsburgh likely wouldn't go for that.
Since trading Trent Richardson, the Browns surprisingly seem like a much better team. However, there isn't much in the form of a running game there.
They brought in veteran Willis McGahee and have elicited 6.2 yards per carry out of Chris Ogbonnaya. Neither one of those players will be a long-term fit, though.
Bringing in a young player like Leshoure would ensure the Browns had a solid backup in place for the running back of their future.
Plus, the current Cleveland regime has already proven they're willing to work a deal this season.
The Browns have stated they are not looking to trade (NFL.com) wide receiver Josh Gordon, but if the Lions gave them an offer they couldn't refuse, that story would change.
Perhaps an offer of Leshoure and a draft pick would get the Browns to budge? If the Lions were able to land Gordon and pair him with Calvin Johnson, look out.
It can't get much worse this year for the Giants. Their turnover-filled season has led to an 0-6 start, but the biggest reason for their problems is their poor rushing attack.
David Wilson has been plagued by fumbles and is now sitting out with an injured neck. Da'Rel Scott was released, brought back for one game in which he was hurt in, and then released again.
The Giants are now using Brandon Jacobs and Peyton Hillis. Their 0-6 record could easily get much worse.
Trading for Mikel Leshoure wouldn't stop all the bleeding in New York, but he has a lot less tread on his tires than Jacobs and Hillis. Next season, the Giants could come back with a healthy Wilson to go along with Leshoure.
Remember the days when New York had so much success with Tiki Barber and Ron Dayne? Maybe they could create a new version of that running game.
What would the Lions get out of the deal? How about Hakeem Nicks?
Nicks will be a free agent at the end of the season and the New York Daily News touched on the fact that he has been the subject of trade talks.
In his career, Nicks has caught 280 passes and 27 touchdowns. Those numbers are much better than anyone on the Lions roster aside from Johnson.
If they could convince New York that getting something for Nicks now would be a better risk than losing him to free agency, this could be the trade to make.
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