The Detroit Lions have had a very busy week of free agency, and have already remade their roster in a ton of ways ahead of an important 2020 season on the field.
While all the team’s work hasn’t been perfect thus far, the Lions have done a nice job to add players who are either familiar with the scheme and coaching staff, or are quality players who can come in and add to key spots on the team that were primed for upgrades.
It’s merely been one week, but how have the Lions done so far this offseason? Here’s a look at grading what the team has done thus far during a very busy free agency period.
Halapoulivaati Vaitai, Offensive Line
The Lions needed to help out their offensive front with some type of move after cutting Rick Wagner and letting Graham Glasgow walk. Vaitai can play more of the role up front at tackle given that is what he has done best, but the only question about this move is the money and the ability of Vaitai to play that role. There’s been plenty questioning the signing. Vaitai has not had tons of NFL starts in his career, and there is big questions whether or not he can man the front. The Lions are making a significant gamble that he can, even as the contract is not that bad in the end. If the Lions wanted to spend money at tackle, they could have chosen a Jack Conklin or a more established player. We’ll see if their gamble ends up paying off.
Jamie Collins, Linebacker
The Lions needed to upgrade their linebacker spot, and finally made a big free agent move to be able to do so. They targeted Collins, who’s had success in the New England defense before. The only concern here? Collins fell flat when he went to Cleveland before, so he hasn’t tasted much success outside of the friendly confines of Foxboro. That’s cause for a bit of concern as is the fact Collins is going to be on the wrong side of 30, but the fact is, he does fit the team’s defense well and should be able to comfortably fit in. The type of veteran linebacker that could change the outlook of the group. This signing could be a major reason people worry about Detroit’s free agency approach.
Chase Daniel, Quarterback
The Lions had a major problem in 2019 with Matthew Stafford’s health and had nobody to turn to that was established in NFL circles. In fact, in Bob Quinn’s entire tenure has shown a lack of willingness to invest at backup quarterback. That’s true no longer with this agreement. Daniel is a player who can give the team a lift in the event Stafford goes down. Quarterback isn’t a worry now, but it’s still possible the Lions could draft someone to go behind Daniel. Either way, it was nice to see the Lions investing in a position they hadn’t prioritized recently with a player they should know quite well given what he’s already done against Detroit.
Nick Williams, Defensive Line
Willams is a bit of an unknown given his best season in the league was 2019, where he collected 6 sacks. The Lions need help both in the middle and on the edge, and Williams offers plenty from a pass rush standpoint. To this end, that’s the reason that the Lions move to sign the lineman was smart. Williams can do a bit of everything up front, and the Lions are hoping the player that showed out for the Bears last season can do that for them. It’s not a long contract, and the risk is merely based on the fact Williams doesn’t have a long history as a major contributor. The Lions will have to trust their eyes and what they saw in person last year.
Danny Shelton, Defensive Tackle
This is quite possibly Detroit’s best move of free agency given how well Shelton fits the team’s defensive scheme and how attractive his 2 year contract is. Shelton played his best football in the New England scheme, and he’s going to get a chance to do that with the Lions and Matt Patricia. Shelton is still young at 26, and this is a player who could anchor the middle of the Lions’ line for the near future. A bargain signing that has a chance to turn out extremely well for Detroit. That’s a fact plenty in the media can agree on.
Jayron Kearse, Safety
Kearse hasn’t had much of a chance to showcase his talents in a crowded backfield in Minnesota, but the big bodied defender should get more of a chance to play a bigger role in the Motor City. The Lions love defensive backs and operate with a lot of depth at safety. That will play to Kearse’s strengths. Kearse is a hard hitter and the type of long, tough safety the Lions like. He should get a chance to show he is worth more than a short contract.
Desmond Trufant, Cornerback
The Lions needed to make a play at cornerback, and Trufant is a big play player in the secondary that can help the Lions account for the loss of Darius Slay at the position. Perhaps people would have felt more comfortable with Slay and Trufant, but the fact is, the Lions can still add to their backfield in the draft. Trufant is a solid player and still has plenty left to give. He can be the type of solid man corner that Matt Patricia craves in his scheme. Another value signing for the Lions as well given Trufant’s 2 year pact.