The Detroit Lions will soon embark on the NFL offseason, and as thoughts shift to free agency and the beginning of a new league year, free agency fits come into focus.
For the Lions, it’s obvious to say that defense is going to be the major focus for the team, and that’s especially true after a miserable finish to the 2019 season which saw the team exposed in a ton of ways.
Which player would help the Lions solve this problem? There are plenty on the market, but recently, Bleacher Report named the best fit for the team. As writer Kristopher Knox said, he believes Los Angeles Rams’ linebacker Cory Littleton is the ideal fit for the squad.
Here’s a look as to why he wrote believes that to be the case:
“The Detroit Lions linebacker corps didn’t play well last season as a whole. The group was even worse when asked to work in space.
A defense can’t be hamstrung by second-level defenders who aren’t comfortable in the passing game. An emphasis is now placed on athleticism and range instead of old-school downhill slobberknockers.
Detroit is already big and physical in the trenches. The front office can complement its current personnel by adding a more versatile linebacker.
Cory Littleton worked his way into a starting role for the Los Angeles Rams before he became a Pro Bowl performer in 2018. He’s posted back-to-back 125-tackle campaigns. More importantly, he would fill a significant void in the middle of Detroit’s defense.
According to Pro Football Focus, Littleton’s 90.6 coverage grade over the last two seasons is third-best in the league.”
A player like Littleton could make up for a ton of the deficiencies the Lions have endured on the back end for the last few seasons.
Corey Littleton Stats
An undrafted free agent from Washington, Littleton has quickly become one of the top players on defense in the league in Los Angeles. He cracked the 2018 Pro Bowl and was a 2018 second team All-Pro selection. To this point in his career, Littleton has put up solid numbers considering 8.5 sacks, 315 tackles, 6 interceptions and 4 fumble recoveries.
As a whole, Littleton is a solid across the board player and someone the Lions could certainly fit into their defense if the price was right.
Analyst Names Lions Free Agency Targets
Recently, Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press was asked in a mailbag segment what free agents he could see the Lions targeting, and proceeded to name plenty that could be of interest to the team when the negotiating period opens in March. Not shockingly, cornerback was a selection there, too.
According to Birkett, there is one side of the ball that is likely to see the most upgrade, and it’s the defensive side. Birkett thinks that the Lions will prioritize a cornerback, a lineman and a backup quarterback for the team this offseason the heaviest.
Here’s a look at what he wrote on the names that could eventually be in play for Detroit when all is said and done:
“The Lions need a cornerback, no matter what they decide to do with Darius Slay, and Byron Jones might be the best option. He tackles, he’s got size, and I don’t know how the Dallas Cowboys can bring him back given the other contracts they have to hand out.
I’d be stunned if the Lions don’t sign a veteran to back up Matthew Stafford. They showed some interest in Case Keenum last year, but couldn’t afford his salary. He won’t cost nearly as much as a free agent, so he’d be a possibility.
Ex-Patriots like Elandon Roberts will probably be on any Lions’ free-agent list, and while I doubt the Kansas City Chiefs let defensive tackle Chris Jones reach free agency, he should be the Lions’ No. 1 target if he’s available.”
Unsurprisingly, defense could be the major focus, and that makes sense for a team that finished the 2019 season in dreadful fashion on that side of the ball.
Lions 2020 Cap Space
Detroit will have a decent chunk of change to spend this offseason, having restructured Matthew Stafford’s deal to push their cap space to around $50 million dollars for the coming season. With this money, the Lions will have multiple different needs to address including the defensive line, secondary as well as potential upgrades on offense.
The Lions could always open up more space with a few savvy moves, and there could be other cap casualties that might impact the team’s final salary number more dramatically ahead of March.
Would the Lions have the cash to sign someone like Littleton? It’s possible considering the team is flush with cash, and might be able to afford one big time contract this offseason.
Only time will tell if Littleton is indeed a target.
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