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

The NFL Playoffs will continue on Sunday and once again, Detroit Lions fans will have to watch other teams compete for the Super Bowl.

The second matchup of the day begins at 6:30 EST and features the Kansas City Chiefs vs. the Buffalo Bills.

Here are 3 potential free agents the Detroit Lions should be paying close attention to in Saturday’s game.


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.


When Minnesota Vikings safety Harrison Smith signed his four-year, $64 million extension shortly before the 2021 season, the deal had to have gotten the attention of veteran safeties league-wide. The Smith deal is one of the strongest contracts for a player in recent memory, with the signing keeping him under contract through his age-36 season. Mathieu is several years younger than Smith, and if he can lead the Kansas City Chiefs defense to a much stronger second half of the season than the first, the versatile defensive back may be able to cash in once more.

Bottom Line:
Mathieu brings leadership, energy and the ability to make plays from multiple positions to any defense he’s on.


Ward is playing the 2021 season on a second-round restricted free agent tender and continues to show he can hold up as a man cover corner with good size at 6-foot-1, 200 pounds. If Tampa Bay Buccaneers cornerback Carlton Davis and New England Patriots cornerback J.C. Jackson were to be franchise-tagged or extended by their current clubs, Ward would have an argument as the best cornerback available due to his ability to play out wide in a man coverage scheme.

Ward also excels in an area that every defensive coordinator will love: tackling. His 5% missed tackle percentage is the lowest rate among the top 75 outside cornerbacks in total tackles since 2019.

Bottom Line:
A former undrafted free agent, Ward boasts the size and speed to play press-man coverage on the outside. Given his career production, he projects better as a No. 2 option, particularly in a man-heavy scheme on a team that dictates matchups.

*Analysis via Pro Football Focus


Written by Don Drysdale

I am a fan of all Detroit sports and LOVE to write about them!

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