Will Michael Burton have a role with the Lions next season or are his days numbered?
Our 2016 Detroit Lions roster review continues with fullback Michael Burton.
Expectations before 2016
Burton figured to be a big part of the Lions offense after a very successful 2015 season. Not only was Burton a big part of the offense (played 22.3 percent of snaps), but he was also one of the best fullbacks in the entire league:
Highest-graded fullbacks last season:— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) June 7, 2016
1. Patrick DiMarco, @AtlantaFalcons
2. Jalston Fowler, @Titans
3. Michael Burton, @Lions
With Ameer Abdullah coming back for his second year in the league, Burton was expected to lead the way for the young running back, bringing the Lions running game back to respectability.
Actual role in 2016
2016 stats: 15 games (0 starts), 1 tackle
When your fullback’s only recorded statistic during an entire season is a tackle, you know something weird is happening. Burton’s role was systematically phased out of the Lions offense as the season went on. The season started out normally for Burton, seeing 10 or more snaps in three of the first six games of the year. However, in the Lions’ final six games combined, he only had eight offensive snaps. Overall, Burton took the field on just 9.2 percent of offensive snaps.
Burton still had a significant role on special teams, but he basically had no importance to the Lions offense by the end of the season.
Outlook for 2017
There’s a chance that Burton may return to a more traditional role next season with a healthy Ameer Abdullah, but it seems like a long shot at this point. Offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter found very little reason to use Burton’s talents when the Lions needed help in the running game. If Burton couldn’t help then, it’s hard to see how he can help in the future. We mentioned Burton as one of three candidates to be a cap casualty this year, but, in truth, that would only save the Lions $568,911. Detroit will have to simply decide whether Burton is worth a roster spot.
Previously profiled Lions: Riley Reiff, Anquan Boldin, Dan Orlovsky, Devin Taylor, Rafael Bush, Don Muhlbach, Larry Warford, Andre Roberts, TJ Jones, Kerry Hyder, Jon Bostic, Marvin Jones, Alex Carter, Tim Wright, Armonty Bryant, Clay Harbor, Crezdon Butler, Matthew Mulligan, Asa Jackson, Tyrunn Walker, Josh Bynes, Stefan Charles, Cornelius Lucas, Steve Longa, Joique Bell, Taylor Decker, Garrett Reynolds, Jake Rudock, Tavon Wilson