Mikel Leshoure was coming off of a successful collegiate career before being drafted by the Detroit Lions with the 57th pick in the second round of the 2011 NFL Draft. In three years with the University of Illinois, Leshoure ran for 2,557 yards and 23 touchdowns on 424 attempts. However, Leshoure is now becoming an afterthought on the Lions roster in his short lived career in the NFL.
The 23-year-old told the Detroit Free Press last season, “I just want to be somewhere they’re going to feed me the rock and I can go eat, man. That’s it. They could be the worst team in the NFL. Just give me the rock. I feel like I just need the ball. Even here, we don’t really run the ball here.”
Leshoure appeared in three games in 2013, rushing for only nine yards. This was coming off of a 807 yards rushing and nine touchdown season in 2012. Leshoure missed his rookie year due to a torn Achilles tendon suffered at training camp. Despite Leshoure being healthy enough to play football next season, he will most likely find himself third on the Lions depth chart behind Joique Bell and Reggie Bush.
It is expected that the team will re-sign Bell to a long-term contract in order to bring him back to Detroit. The hometown native has been a fan favorite in his two seasons with the Lions. Appearing in all 16 games in 2013, Bell’s breakout performance allowed him and Bush to become the first running back tandem in NFL history to finish the season with 500 yards rushing and receiving.
If Bell decides to leave for another franchise this offseason, the Lions may have to bring Leshoure back on the roster, regardless if they wanted him on the team or not. Leshoure is currently on the final year of his contract and will become a free agent in 2015. He will make $645,000 this season, so cutting him wouldn’t be to save money, it would be to add a player who would contribute more to the team.
A team that needs to address their need at the running back position and wants to upgrade it through free agency is the Cleveland Browns. After trading Alabama standout Trent Richardson to the Indianapolis Colts last season, as well as the disappointing performance by Willis McGahee, the team could take the risk by signing Leshoure. The back has the potential to increase his production and show off his unseen talent to the league.