Lions agree to deal with Rams executive Brad Holmes as GM
By LARRY LAGE
The Detroit Lions desperately need to figure out how to draft better players and they're leaning on Brad Holmes to lead the way, drawing on his expertise with the Los Angeles Rams.
Holmes and the Lions agreed to terms Thursday on a deal Thursday that makes him their general manager. He led the Rams' college scouting department for eight years and started his 18-year career with them as a public relations intern in 2003.
Unlike Detroit's previous search in 2016 when it hired Bob Quinn after interviewing just three candidates, it chose to give Holmes a shot after he was one of 12 to formally discuss the job with the team.
"It was evident early on that Brad is a proven leader who is ready for this opportunity," Lions principal owner and chairman Sheila Ford Hamp said.
Holmes had a second interview in Detroit on Wednesday, meeting with the franchise's leaders in person, and was impressive enough to land the job.
"Throughout our search for a new general manager, Brad was someone who stood out immediately," Lions president and CEO Rod Wood said. "His abilities as a critical thinker, along with his extensive experience implementing technology and analytics into his approach to scouting, were among the many decisive qualities Brad displayed in our time getting to know him during the interview process.
"We look forward to him helping lead our organization as we take the next steps as a team."
The Rams said Holmes will oversee the Lions' football operations and report directly to Ford Hamp and Wood.
To replace Quinn, who was fired along with coach Matt Patricia in November, the Lions interviewed many candidates: Rick Smith, Scott Pioli, Thomas Dimitroff, Louis Riddick, Jeff Ireland, Ed Dodds, Terry Fontenot, Kyle O'Brien, Lance Newmark, Rob Lohman and George Paton.
Holmes will now join Detroit's search for a new coach.
New Orleans assistant head coach/tight end coach Dan Campbell, Tennessee offensive coordinator Arthur Smith, former Cincinnati coach Marvin Lewis, San Francisco defensive coordinator Robert Saleh, Kansas City offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy and interim head coach Darrell Bevell have interviewed for the opportunity to lead a long-suffering franchise.
Detroit hasn't won a playoff game since beating Dallas on Jan. 5, 1992, and that victory was its only one in the postseason since winning the 1957 NFL title.
The Lions reached double digits in losses in 2020 for the third straight season and 13th time this century.
Holmes will have a lot of important decisions to make, including whether to keep or trade quarterback Matthew Stafford.
Detroit drafted Stafford with the No. 1 overall pick in 2009, coming off the NFL's first 0-16 season, and faces the franchise's largest rebuild since selecting the former Georgia star. He is 74-90-1 in the regular season as a starter and 0-3 in the playoffs.
Stafford has two years left on his $135 million, five-year contract. Holmes may decide to retool the roster by trading him to acquire more draft picks. He certainly could retain Stafford and focus on numerous needs, especially on defense.
The Lions allowed 519 points and 6,716 yards last season, breaking records set by their winless team in 2008 and statistically ranked among the worst in NFL history.
Holmes, who is from Tampa, Florida, managed scouts and evaluated every NFL-caliber prospect in the country as the director of college scouting the past eight years. He also had various roles as a scout for the Rams, who gave him his start in the league in their public relations department 18 years ago.
During his career with the Rams, they had 20 All-Pro players and 37 Pro Bowlers.
"We are all excited for this opportunity for Brad," Rams general manager Les Snead said. "He has spent his entire career with the Rams and he earned this position with the Lions due to his dedication to being an astute evaluator of football talent, dynamic intelligence, unwavering leadership and humility. All of those qualities will ensure he is set up to be successful in this next chapter of his career."
Holmes played defensive tackle and was a captain at North Carolina A&T, graduating in 2002 with a degree in journalism and mass communications. His father, Mel, played offensive guard for the Pittsburgh Steelers in the early 1970s and uncle Luther Bradley was drafted as a defensive back by Detroit in 1978.
AP Sports Writer Greg Beacham contributed.
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Updated January 14, 2021