The Detroit Lions are beginning to set their sights toward NFL free agency period and consider who they should chase in order to improve their fortunes for 2020. When this happens on March 17, undoubtably, there will be plenty of focus on defense.
A very needy spot on the team is that of the defensive backfield. Detroit has an elite player in Darius Slay, but his future is currently open to interpretation. Beyond that, depth is a must. The team spent to add Justin Coleman to the mix, but could make another splash in order to compensate for the loss of Slay or give him a capable running mate.
In the event that the Lions decide to spend on a cornerback, who should they be targeting in free agency this year? Here’s a look at the top names the team needs to remember coming up this offseason.
Lions Free Agency Target: Chris Harris, CB, Denver Broncos
Harris has been a solid player in Denver as a veteran, putting up 518 tackles and 20 interceptions during his career. As pointed out, he’s got versatility and can be a player to do a little bit of everything in the team’s backfield. The Lions tried to deal for Harris before the 2019 NFL trade deadline, so there could be the added benefit of some interest there. One thing working against the Lions could be plenty of league wide interest in the defensive back, so he’d have to love the opportunity to come to the Lions in order to make this happen. Arguably, he could be a top target, and many already are predicting him to land with the team.
Lions Free Agency Target: Byron Jones, CB, Dallas Cowboys
Yet another player in the Harris mold, 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 by Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press, 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.
Lions Free Agency Target: Logan Ryan, CB, Tennessee Titans
Familiarity is a big deal in the Lions’ defensive scheme, and Ryan has plenty to rely on. He knows Matt Patricia from his time in New England, and has also played with the Tennessee Titans. If the Lions strike out on one of their bigger name plays, Ryan could make a ton of sense for the team as a solid option. 491 tackles and 17 interceptions paints the picture of a player who is solid and can do a lot for a defense. Expect the Lions to show interest here, and it would make sense.
Lions Free Agency Target: James Bradberry, CB, Carolina Panthers
One of the better young options on the market, Bradberry could be a big fit for Detroit personnel wise, but money wise, he could break the bank. Reportedly seeking around $15 million a season, the Lions would have to choose to make a huge commitment to pay Bradberry, especially if they were going to avoid paying Slay. 3 interceptions last season made Bradberry a household name and a standout, and his solid play could get him on the radar of all the cornerback needy teams this March, including Detroit.
Lions Free Agency Target: Ronald Darby, CB, Philadelphia Eagles
Looking for an underrated player who could have interest in joining the Lions as well as some obvious tie ins to the staff? Look no further than Darby, a player who played in New England with Matt Patricia briefly and also has experience with new Detroit defensive coordinator Cory Undlin. The Lions could pursue Darby, who has 251 tackles and 8 interceptions, as a lower cost option which combined with a young draft pick could beef up the team’s depth. There are bigger splashes out there, but this move would lend to plenty of familiarity on both sides, which makes it something to watch and remember.