The Broncos signed former Detroit Lions DL Jason Hunter yesterday so I wanted to get some insight from a Lions fan to find out what the Broncos were getting and what we should expect. Sean Yuille runs Pride of Detroit, the web's premier fan-site dedicated to the Detroit Lions. He also runs SBN-Detroit, so he has his virtual fingers in all of Motor City Sports. Check them both out.
Sean was nice enough to send a few words about Hunter.
After a relatively successful 2009 season that saw Hunter start nine games at defensive end for the Lions, it was expected that he would be in the mix to start opposite Kyle Vanden Bosch at the position this year. Hunter had starting experience from last season and during the offseason, he got the highest tender of all the Lions' restricted free agents, seeming to show that the coaches and front office had a lot of faith in him going forward.
More recently, though, Cliff Avril started establishing himself as the other starter at defensive end, and although Hunter was still viewed as a solid rotational player by the fans, the coaches had a different opinion. Head coach Jim Schwartz explained that Hunter was being passed on the depth chart by some of the younger guys on the roster and was losing reps. Because he was starting to be left out of the Lions' plans going forward, Schwartz and company decided to simply release Hunter and give him a chance to catch on somewhere else, which has led him to join the Broncos.
The Lions' decision to release Hunter was a very surprising one and some fans are still questioning the move, especially after Detroit made a trade for Lawrence Jackson to shore up depth at defensive end. Many fans wonder why the Lions didn't just stick with Hunter, but it's obvious from Schwartz's comments that what was going on behind the scenes with Hunter was far different from the perception fans had of the situation. I still think Hunter has talent and will at the very least add depth to the defensive end position for Denver, but something with Detroit caused him to slide down the depth chart. Schwartz said it was simply younger players taking his reps, but perhaps there was more to the decision then that. (For the conspiracy theorists out there, Hunter was the person who collided with Jordon Dizon when he suffered a season-ending knee injury last week. Some have suggested Hunter was out of position and was released because he helped cause the injury, but that seems a little out there in my opinion.)
Thanks to Sean for taking the time to talk about Hunter.