3 Potential FAs Detroit Lions fans should watch closely in Bills vs. Patriots playoff game

The NFL Playoffs will kick off on Saturday afternoon and once again, Detroit Lions fans will have to watch other teams compete for the Super Bowl.

The nightcap on Saturday begins at 8:15 EST and features the Buffalo Bills vs. the New England Patriots.

Here are 3 potential free agents Lions fans should be paying close attention to in today’s game.

CB J.C. JACKSON, NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS

J.C. Jackson is playing in 2021 on the second-round restricted free agent tender at a value of $3.384 million. However, former Patriots cornerback and 2019 Defensive Player of the Year Stephon Gilmore, who has since been traded to the Carolina Panthers, was also looking for new money headed into 2021. If Carlton Davis does get franchise tagged, Jackson could become the top man coverage corner available after a full season serving as the No. 1 with Gilmore never playing for the Patriots.

Bottom Line:
Throwing at Jackson has resulted in one of the lowest passer ratings in the league since 2018 due to a combination of rarely getting beat downfield and his ability to produce turnovers. He has the man-coverage skill set that teams covet at the position.

EDGE JERRY HUGHES, BUFFALO BILLS

Hughes has become something of a pass-rush specialist to close out his career, with his 89.9 pass-rush grade since 2019 being the eighth-best mark among edge rushers. But his 57.7 run-defense grade ranks 91st out of 135 edge rushers. Teams will always pay for someone who can get after the opposing quarterback, and Hughes shows no sign of losing that ability even at 33 years old.

Bottom Line:
Even at 33 years old, Hughes has been one of the NFL’s most effective edge rushers this season. He can still bring value to a team as a pass-rushing specialist in the twilight of his career.

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S DEVIN MCCOURTY, NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS

Another safety playing well into his 30s, McCourty’s tenure with the New England Patriots has been nothing short of remarkable. New England just extended safety Adrian Phillips, but he plays more as a hybrid linebacker-safety, as does 2020 second-round pick Kyle Dugger. McCourty is the perfect deep-third safety who keeps everything in front of him to round out this secondary, and he earned 70.0-plus grades in every facet this season, even at 34 years old.

Bottom Line:
Few players have been as good as McCourty over the last decade, as he’s been one of the most dependable free safeties in the league. He’s getting toward the end of his career, and he may not want to move to a new situation, but he can still hold it down on the back end and ensure that the defense gets lined up properly.

*Analysis via Pro Football Focus

 

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