5 Top free agents linked to Detroit Lions are still available

The 2021 NFL Draft is a wrap and between that (7) and undrafted rookie free agents (13), the Detroit Lions have added 20 players to their 90-man roster.

That being said, the Lions GM Brad Holmes will continue to look to improve his roster depth and you can expect that he will add more free agents to the mix before the season begins.

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Pro Football Focus put out a piece back in May in which they rank the top 40 remaining free agents and the five free agents they linked to the Lions are still on the market.

Here are the five players PFF believes would be a good fit for the Lions.

17. CB GAREON CONLEY

Reported Visits/Interest: Browns

Team Fits: Browns, Cardinals, Chargers, Chiefs, Colts, Cowboys, Eagles, Falcons, Lions, Packers, Saints

A former first-round pick, Conley has had his ups and downs, grading out at 64.5 and 64.0 in his two full NFL seasons. He missed all of the 2020 campaign. Conley is better in man coverage, as he’s graded in the 69th percentile in single coverage compared to just the 37th percentile in zone since entering the league. He’s also forced incompletions on 22.2% of his targets, the second-best rate in the NFL since 2017. Conley is worth a look in a man-heavy system.

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Contract Analysis: The former 2017 first-round pick of the then-Oakland Raiders was traded to the Houston Texans for a third-round pick after just two seasons. Conley is a perfect candidate to be 2021’s Ronald Darby, as he profiles similarly — and that’s what his selling point should be to potential suitors.

Updated Contract Projection: One year, $1.75 million

19. DI GENO ATKINS

Reported Visits/Interest: Bengals, Vikings

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Team Fits: Bengals, Bills, Cardinals, Chargers, Cowboys, Lions, Packers, Raiders, Titans, Vikings

At his peak, Geno Atkins was one of the best pass-rushing interior linemen in the game, but his recent decline is apparent and injury limited him in 2020. If he can get healthy and recapture some of his better play, he can still succeed with a team short on disruption inside, but his best play may be a long way in the rearview mirror.

Contract Analysis: Atkins played just 127 snaps in 2020 and graded out at 54.0, both marks that were by far the lowest of his career. The career Bengal had played at least 775 snaps and graded at 76.2 or better in five straight seasons before his first-ever bad year, but it’s fair to wonder if age is catching up to the 33-year-old. Atkins was a dominant force for the better part of a decade, though, and could have some spark left in a better situation.

Updated Contract Projection: One year, $5 million (up to $7 million)

20. DI JURRELL CASEY

Reported Visits/Interest: N/A

Team Fits: Bengals, Bills, Cardinals, Chargers, Cowboys, Lions, Packers, Raiders, Titans, Vikings

Limited to just 156 snaps in 2020, Casey kept his streak alive of never grading below 70.0 overall, highlighting how he’s been consistently good since entering the NFL in 2011. Casey had five straight years with 50-plus pressures from 2013 to 2019, but his pass-rush production has slowed a bit in recent years. He’s still a plus run defender who should still be on many teams' radars.

Contract Analysis: The Broncos acquired Casey for a seventh-round pick before the 2020 season, but he missed the majority of the year to injury. Casey’s 2021 salary was slated to be $11,874,750, with $0 dead money on a release. There’s no reason to think he can’t be a productive player going forward; this move was more about the financial implications. He should still have a handful of suitors and can provide good value as a run-stuffing 3-technique who will generate the occasional quarterback pressure.

Updated Contract Projection: One year, $4.5 million (up to $6.5 million)

36. LB B.J. GOODSON

Reported Visits/Interest: N/A

Team Fits: Lions, Jets, Ravens, Texans, Rams

Goodson played a career-high 937 snaps in 2020, and his 66.0 overall grade ranked 24th among NFL linebackers. He was best suited for an early-down run-stopping role in his first few years, but he rounded out his game with a career-high 66.1 coverage grade to go with four pass breakups last season. The rest of Goodson’s career suggests that a limited role is still the best bet for his production, but he’s a sure tackler and a solid overall player who should get a look from teams still in need of linebacker help.

Contract Analysis: The Browns were missing many of their defensive players, particularly on the back end, for much of the 2020 season, but Goodson was ever-present and relatively solid throughout their march to the playoffs. A strong performance against the Steelers in the wild-card round was followed by a tough outing against the speedy Chiefs, but Goodson proved he can handle a larger workload if it becomes necessary.

Updated Contract Projection: One year, $2.5 million

38. OG JAMES CARPENTER

Reported Visits/Interest: N/A

Team Fits: Chargers, Lions, Football Team

Carpenter's past two years looked a lot like his first two in the NFL when he was on his way to being viewed as a first-round draft bust. He earned overall PFF grades of just 45.0 and 56.0 in those campaigns and hasn’t produced an above-average year in pass protection since 2018.

Contract Analysis: Carpenter was one of several higher-priced guards cut before the 2021 season as teams looked for ways to free up cap space. Atlanta cleared a little over $4 million with his release, with the team looking to get under the cap and get younger along the interior offensive line.

Updated Contract Projection: One year, $1.075 million

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