Our 2017 roster review will reexamine the Lions’ roster and how it played out last season. We’ll take a look at expectations, performance and potential role in the future.
Today, we continue our discussion with Detroit Lions offensive lineman Don Barclay.
Expectations before 2017
Detroit spent bags of cash on the likes of T.J. Lang and Rick Wagner in free agency to bolster their offensive line, turning it into one of the best units in football on paper. Taylor Decker’s shoulder injury derailed much of that momentum—an injury that kept him sidelined until Week 10—and in hindsight, it seemed to be a forewarning of the problems that would plague the unit as a whole during the season.
As the Lions shuffled around their offensive line on a weekly basis, creating more combinations by season’s end than Panda Express, Detroit was in need of adding from the league’s talent pool. Enter Don Barclay, former Green Bay Packers offensive lineman.
During his time with the Packers, Barclay logged time at tackle, guard, and center, playing in 62 career games and starting in 24 of those appearances. Presumably, it was his versatility that appealed to a Detroit team that was faced with injuries everywhere on the offensive front.
Actual role in 2017
2017 stats: 3 games (1 start): 126 total snaps, 85 passing snaps, 41 running snaps
PFF Grade: 29.5
Barclay came in for spot duty during Detroit’s Week 13 loss to the Baltimore Ravens when Wagner left his homecoming early, and Week 15’s victory over the Chicago Bears when Lang went down with an injury. He earned his first start as a Lion in Week 16’s matchup with the Cincinnati Bengals, a game that would ultimately decide Detroit’s playoff fate, and not do any favors for Barclay’s reputation in Detroit.
With Travis Swanson, Lang, and Wagner all missing up front, the offensive line was given its most difficult challenge of the season considering the circumstances, and it was Barclay who had the toughest job of all lined up opposite of him: Geno Atkins. Barclay would commit three penalties in the fourth quarter of the game, including two penalties on the Lions penultimate drive in which they trailed by just two points—an offensive holding that wiped out a 6-yard catch by Eric Ebron, and a false start to set up a third-and-28 from Detroit’s own 7-yard line.
Barclay would be put on injured reserve after Week 16 with a concussion.
Outlook for 2018
Contract status: Unrestricted free agent
Detroit has some decisions to make along their offensive line, most importantly along the interior. Swanson, the team’s starting center for the past three seasons, is an unrestricted free agent, but concussions have cut short his past two years. The Lions have a contingency plan in Graham Glasgow, whose play in place of the injured Swanson at center should have inspired some confidence in a possible permanent move from left guard to manning the middle.
As for Barclay, it doesn’t seem likely the team will bring him back when you consider the options Detroit has along the interior. “Good Job” Joe Dahl had some moments of promise, especially in the run game in his appearance against the Chicago Bears in Week 15, Zac Kerin is a restricted free agent that could come back on a team-friendly deal, and the Lions clearly like Leo Koloamatangi, the undrafted rookie from Hawaii who joined the team last season for training camp. Add in the idea that the Lions are likely to draft some offensive line insurance in the draft this season to help avoid the disaster that was the 2017 season, Barclay will likely play elsewhere in 2018.
Previously: DE Dwight Freeney, LB Tahir Whitehead , DE Ezekiel Ansah, S Tavon Wilson, CB Nevin Lawson, LS Don Muhlbach, LB Paul Worrilow, WR TJ Jones, TE Darren Fells, OT Greg Robinson, DT Jordan Hill, CB DJ Hayden, S Don Carey, LB Nick Bellore