Lions GM Bob Quinn: Drafting Tua Tagovailoa as a trade chip too risky

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DETROIT — The Detroit Lions weren’t able to trade the No. 3 pick in the NFL draft last Thursday, and according to general manager Bob Quinn, the team never even received an offer for the selection.

Many fans have questioned why the GM didn’t leverage his position by calling the bluff of the Miami Dolphins and potentially other franchises by taking Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa and forcing trade action. When asked about the hypothetical scenario during an interview with 97.1 The Ticket on Tuesday morning, Quinn said it wasn’t a realistic option.

“Easier, I would say much easier, said than done,” Quinn said. “How do I know Tua was (the Dolphins) guy? How do I know they didn’t really want an offensive tackle, which they had talked a lot about. There are so many maybes in that conversation, that’s why it doesn’t happen in the NFL.

“We don’t trust each other as GMs,” Quinn continued. “I worked with (Dolphins GM) Chris Grier for a year. My first year in the league, Chris was in New England in 2000. So I know Chris. Ultimately, like you said, it’s a game of poker. On draft weekend, I take no one’s word. I couldn’t sit there and truthfully, for the Lions organization, consider something like that because you never know what’s going to happen.”

If the Lions had taken such aggressive approach, they may have ended up stuck with Tagovailoa. And while there’s a segment of the fan base that would have been thrilled with the outcome, it wasn’t something Quinn thought the team could afford.

“Ultimately, we weren’t in a position to take a quarterback that high,” Quinn said. “We felt we had greater needs on the team for this season. That was kind of the decision we made leading up to the draft.”

As for the total lack of trade offers, Quinn insisted his staff played its hand correctly, including making several calls to gauge interest instead of waiting for other teams to call them. In the end, nothing materialized.

Asked if he would have considered a low-ball offer from Miami to drop back to No. 5 — giving the Lions something instead of nothing, while still having a good shot to land Jeff Okudah, taken by the Lions at No. 3 — Quinn said no.

“That’s a tough question,” he said. “My gut reaction is I probably wouldn’t have taken a fifth-round pick to move back two spots. I don’t think that’s good business because I would have been really upset if someone jumped the Giants (at No. 4) and took Okudah. You know? Can you guarantee whatever, the New Orleans Saints, didn’t give up next year’s one to move up to No. 4 to take Okudah? I probably wouldn’t have done that for a fifth-round pick.”


The Lions have made some offseason additions that should help the team’s anemic pass rush, signing linebacker Jamie Collins (7.0 sacks last season) in free agency and drafting Notre Dame’s Julian Okwara.

Quinn was thrilled he was able to land Okwara in the third round.

“I would say I was surprised Okwara was there, at the top of the third,” Quinn said. “We kind of went in saying we love Julian as a player. He fits our scheme, we know his brother, all that stuff kind of helped. Ultimately, after we took (running back D’Andre) Swift, we’re sitting there staring at him going, ‘There’s no way. There’s no way in like 32 picks he’s going to be sitting there.’”

In addition to Collins and Okwara, Quinn is also counting on Austin Bryant, last year’s fourth-round pick, to bolster the rush.

“Austin Bryant is coming along,” Quinn said. “You guys saw glimpses of him last year, but he’s a guy that we’re counting on to do some thing this year for us, in terms of pass rush.”

Various injuries limited Bryant to four games and 133 defensive snaps last season. He finished with eight tackles and zero sacks.


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