On March 17, the NFL new league year will officially begin, which also means teams will be able to begin signing free agents.
This is always an exciting time of the year for the fans as they wait patiently to see which big-time players their team signs for the upcoming season.
Well, I have news for you Detroit Lions fans. The Lions will most likely not be signing any of the “big-time” players who will be available when the free agency period begins. That is because Sheila Ford Hamp has cleaned house and new GM Brad Holmes and head coach Dan Campbell are now running the show and the rebuild is officially underway.
Now, don’t get too disappointed because the Lions will sign some free agents to help fill out their roster, just don’t expect a big splash.
In a piece recently written by Chris Burke of The Athletic, he listed 5 ideal free-agent options for the Detroit Lions.
Here is what Burke had to say about each of those players.
LB – Jayon Brown, Tennessee
If Holmes is willing to pay up in free agency, it’ll have to be for relatively young players who could be part of the long-term answers here. Brown, 26 later this month, fits. He’s one of the more consistent coverage linebackers in the NFL, and he’s excelled in those passing-down spots since his days at UCLA.
My thoughts: Brown would be the perfect signing for the Lions as he would be an immediate upgrade over anything currently on the roster. Not to mention, he would not break the bank.
WR – Curtis Samuel, Carolina
Still, if Holmes earmarks somewhere in the $18 million to $20 million range to upgrade at receiver, he’ll have to formulate a complete picture. Spotrac puts Golladay’s market value at $17 million per season (a franchise tag will be closer to $18.5 million-plus). It has Samuel at a $12.4 million projected average, so in theory the Lions could add Samuel and a low-priced option/draft pick to “replace” Golladay. And if they don’t target Samuel, they should be on the lookout for a receiver with a similar skill set — a matchup headache who can get into space.
My thoughts: I believe the Lions should let Golladay walk as I am not a fan of paying the big bucks for a wide receiver. That being said, Samuel projected contract of $12.4 million per season is a bit high for me but if the Lions can somehow get him for closer to $10 million, they should consider it.
S – John Johnson, LA Rams
Should Holmes take one big swing in free agency, though, this might be the spot to do it. Holmes, of course, helped find Johnson in Round 3 of the 2017 daft, and Johnson since has developed into a premier safety. He’s proven to be a versatile option, capable of playing in the box, up high or over the slot. Assuming the Lions shift Tracy Walker back to more of his natural free safety spot, Johnson’s all-around game would pair extremely well. It’s a pipe dream, perhaps, but … maybe.
My thoughts: This one is hard but not hard. I LOVE John Johnson as a player but he is going to demand way more than I would be willing to pay for a safety at this point of the rebuild. That being said, if the Lions do sign Johnson, I will secretly be a little excited, even though I know it is not the best financial move at this time.
DL/Edge – Shelby Harris, Denver
Still guessing at exactly what the defensive scheme will look like, but Harris would fit regardless of the final setup. That’s especially true because he has been productive as a pass rusher — 6.0 sacks in 2019, 11 QB hits (and 2.5 sacks) this past season. It should be a priority this offseason to find a disruptive three-tech. The Lions don’t really have one, unless Holmes and Campbell are convinced this is finally going to be the year Da’Shawn Hand stays healthy and takes a huge leap.
My thoughts: The Lions most definitely need help when it comes to rushing the passer and Harris is capable of helping the cause. If the price is right, this would be a great addition.
RB – Jamaal Williams, Green Bay
Improve your team and hurt a division rival — what’s not to like? Campbell has made little secret of his desire to find a back to pair with D’Andre Swift for a 1-2 punch. Williams knows all about that type of role, having spent his first four NFL seasons behind Aaron Jones on the Packers’ depth chart. Over that span, Williams averaged 155.5 touches per season and 736.5 yards from scrimmage, with 500 rushing attempts and 122 catches.
My thoughts: I would get this signing as the Lions do need a sidekick for D’Andre Swift, but my preference would be to either sign a veteran like Todd Gurley or Mark Ingram (IF THEY ARE CHEAP ENOUGH) or draft a guy like Trey Sermon out of Ohio State as those three players have a much different style compared to Swift.