The Detroit Lions could have a ton of changes coming down the pipe this offseason, and defense could be the side of the ball that sees the most turnover when all is said and done.
Detroit has plenty of questions as it relates to what will happen in their defensive backfield, and could be interested in making a big splash in free agency. According to an ESPN Insider piece, Dan Graziano and Jeremy Fowler note that the Lions, Philadelphia Eagles and Denver Broncos have interest in signing Byron Jones of the Dallas Cowboys.
Denver traded for A.J. Bouye on Tuesday, so what that does to their need for a cornerback is anyone’s guess. Detroit, though, could certainly decide to trade Darius Slay and patch the hole by signing Jones and perhaps also making a draft pick at the position.
Byron Jones Career Stats
It’s obvious that Jones could be one of the next big money players to come off the board fast given interest in his services figures to be wide. Jones was already predicted to be a potential target of the team, and with 349 tackles and 2 interceptions, it’s clear Jones is a guy who can get the job done. He’s likely to be one of the top targets across the board this offseason.
Jones broke into the league with the Dallas Cowboys out of UConn in 2015 when he was the 27th pick in the first round of the NFL Draft. At 6-1, he’s got the length that teams like Detroit covet on the back end, and that’s a big reason he could be a key player for the Lions and Matt Patricia’s defense.
Analyst Predicted Lions Interest in Byron Jones
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.
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 Cap Space in 2020
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.
For now, though, the Lions have a decent amount of money to spend to patch several of the holes they will be dealing with, and could be looking to make a big commitment to a defender like Jones.