The Detroit Lions‘ defense saw significant improvement over the final 10 games of the 2022 season, but it still finished as one of the worst units in the NFL. While the Lions' linebacker group is not as weak as it has been in the past, there's still room for improvement. Fortunately, the upcoming free agency period offers an opportunity to bolster the team's defensive depth. With Malcolm Rodriguez leading the way, the Lions can look to add complementary pieces to make the entire unit even stronger. Here are three linebackers that Detroit should consider signing in free agency.
3 Free agent LBs the Detroit Lions should consider
Here are three free agents the Lions should consider signing to complement Malcolm Rodriguez.
Tremaine Edmunds – Buffalo Bills
In 2022, Edmunds made significant progress in coverage, an area that was previously a weakness in his game during his first four NFL seasons. Despite being selected as the second-youngest player in the 2019 NFL Draft, Edmunds is a freakish athlete who will turn 25 in 2023, his sixth NFL season. Edmunds received an impressive 86.9 coverage grade in 2022, which was the third-highest among off-ball linebackers. He forced an incompletion on 10.3% of targets into his coverage while only allowing four explosive receptions during the entire season.
Davie Long – Tennessee Titans
Long is a versatile off-ball linebacker for the Titans, capable of excelling in various aspects of the game. He posted an impressive 89.0 run-defense grade in the 2022 season. However, Long's aggressive style of play can sometimes lead to missed tackles and over-committing on play-action passes. Despite this, he is a young and improving player who contributed significantly to the Titans' top-ranked defense in terms of expected points added per rush allowed. Although 2022 marked his first season as a full-time middle linebacker, Long has proven himself to be a strong pass-rusher over the past three seasons.
T.J. Edwards – Philadelphia Eagles
In 2022, Edwards returned to Philadelphia on a one-year contract worth $2.15 million. Despite the team's history of not investing in the linebacker position with top draft picks or free-agent signings, Edwards had a breakout season that may challenge the Eagles' approach. He posted an impressive grade of 84.4, the second-best among off-ball linebackers, and excelled in both run defense and coverage, with 11 quarterback pressures on only 26 pass-rush snaps. As an undrafted free agent, Edwards proved his worth and is poised for a significant salary increase this offseason.
Bottom Line: The Lions need somebody to help Malcolm Rodriguez
The Detroit Lions defense showed significant improvement in the latter half of the 2022 season, but it still finished as one of the worst units in the NFL. With Malcolm Rodriguez leading the way, the Lions' linebacker group is not as weak as it has been in the past, but there is still room for improvement. Ahead of the upcoming free agency period, the Lions can look to add complementary pieces to make their entire defense even stronger. Here are three free-agent linebackers the team should consider signing to complement Rodriguez, including Tremaine Edmunds of the Buffalo Bills, Davie Long of the Tennessee Titans, and T.J. Edwards of the Philadelphia Eagles.