I am going to separate myself from the off-the-field aspect of this signing for a moment. The player Andrew Quarless is unquestionably a better player than Matt Mulligan, Cole Wick, or Adam Feuhne at this point in their careers. Even with that said, this is a misstep by Lions General Manager Bob Quinn. The reason every media outlet seems focused on is that he is suspended for two games and coming off a gun charge. Quinn used the words “zero tolerance” describing his stance on domestic violence and weapons charges. The bigger issues are that Quarless was not the best option available in free agency, and that being on the NFL’s radar means any future transgressions will be punished more harshly than they would be for a first offender.
There Were Better Options than Andrew Quarless
Owen Daniels is still a free agent. Were the Lions looking to improve their tight end group going forward, the 33 year old Daniels is by far the best tight end available. Both Daniels and Quarless are all around tight ends, with Daniels leaning toward receiving and Quarless leaning toward blocking. Daniels would give the team a stand-in for Eric Ebron in the short term and a possible depth at tight end for the season. Daniels is coming off a Superbowl championship and a season in which he made 45 receptions, while Quarless was on pace for 13 receptions last year when his season ended on IR after five games. Daniels was a huge contributor to the team’s offense, but was cut for salary cap reasons as the Broncos searched for room to retain other players. Strike one against the Andrew Quarless signing is that there was a better option and the Lions had the cap room to take that option.
Credibility Does Matter
Up to this point Bob Quinn had done exactly what he said he was going to do. He said they wouldn’t make a huge splash in free agency and they really didn’t add any major free agents except Marvin Jones. He said that they were going to build the depth of the team, and I don’t think it can be argued that they have not. The third wide receiver, the third offensive tackle, the third defensive tackle, and countless other positions on the roster are unquestionably in a better place. But Bob Quinn said the team wasn’t going after players like this. If he were going to break his word, there were bigger fish that he could have done so to reel in. Ray Rice would have been a better short yardage back than any the Lions have. Greg Hardy would have been a better third defensive end than Wallace Gillberry. Andrew Quarless pulled a pistol and fired it while he was involved in an altercation with a woman outside a night club. That is not something that a good person does. If Bob Quinn were going to go back on his word, he should have done it for more than a high end camp body. He has lessened his credibility and that of the organization for a very limited gain, and that is strike two for this transaction.
Roger Goodell is Looking
The third strike is that Quarless is now on the league’s radar. Players on NFL teams have a tendency to end up in the same places, at the same parties, with the same people. That puts everyone in the same place as Quarless – on the NFL’s radar. One of the advantages that the Lions have had, a thing that has been driving fans crazy but is actually a good thing for the team, is that nobody is talking about them. A future incident involving Quarless immediately draws negative media attention to the organization and any other players in the area. He is also personally more likely to be suspended in the future, for longer periods, and for lesser transgressions now that he is in Roger Goodell’s field of view.
What is the Upside?
I don’t see the upside that matches any of these issues by itself, let alone as a group. I have liked most of Bob Quinn’ moves thus far, but this is one that I just can’t sign off on, and it’s got nothing to do with the specifics of what Quarless did. It undercuts Quinn’s credibility, didn’t get the best player available, and puts the team under a microscope that they had not previously been under. All of that for a guy that might end up being the third tight end when all is said and done. It’s just not worth it.