The Detroit Lions have had a decent offseason already, but before the NFL Draft even happens, the team could put it over the top with one more big addition for their defense.
Defensive end Yannick Ngakoue isn’t happy with the Jacksonville Jaguars. The sides have been at a stalemate in recent weeks in terms of a contract, and it seems logical to think that Ngakoue wants to move on after he said as much in a tweet. The Jaguars are also now reportedly taking calls from multiple teams at this point in time.
One of those calls must now be from the Lions.
Detroit’s defense has already been turned upside down with some big moves, but the Lions could stand to add a player like Ngakoue to their pass rush. That would take significant heat off the team needing a miracle to land Chase Young, or needing to reach for another pass rusher fairly early. The Lions also haven’t made a big enough splash at pass rush this offseason, and would not have to sign another player off the scrap heap in order to try and make ends meet. They’ve tried that solution the past few years to no avail.
Detroit should look to trade a second round pick and a mid-round selection in order to try and get the pass rusher into the mix. Detroit’s second round pick is high enough it can essentially be viewed as a late first by Jacksonville, and the team could also pick up more selections by trading back in the 2020 NFL Draft as well, so all wouldn’t be lost if the Lions made the move and gave up their current second round selection.
Ngakoue, meanwhile, could quickly get a long term deal done with the Lions, who do have plenty of cap space to work with. It would be a win-win for both team and player at this point in time.
Detroit needs a big offseason in order to right the ship for 2020 and get their team moving in the right direction. So far, they’ve made plenty of solid moves, but none have been as bold as this would be. That’s why it’s the perfect thing for the team to go for.
Yannick Ngakoue Stats
The Lions would love to add a talent like Ngakoue to their defensive front. Just 25 years old out of Maryland, Ngakoue is already one of the next best pass rushers in the league. He’s put up 122 tackles and 37.5 sacks plus 2 interceptions during his time in the league. A 2017 Pro Bowl player, Ngakoue has also forced an impressive 14 fumbles in his career, showcasing his big play player abilities.
All of that paints the picture of a player who could give the Lions just what they need. Playing opposite Trey Flowers and along with Danny Shelton, the Lions would have the makings of one of the better defensive lines in the league just a few years after being in a desperate position.
NFL Analyst Agrees With Lions Defensive Need
Now that the first wave of free agency is done, what are the Lions biggest needs remaining on the roster? Recently, CBS Sports analyst Pete Prisco took a look at naming those needs for every team. As he said, while the Lions have done some heavy lifting on defense, much more is required.
Prisco agreed with defense and specifically the front, saying that he believes the Lions need help at cornerback and also along the defensive line. Here’s a look at what he wrote as to why that’s the case:
“By trading Darius Slay, they lost their best corner. But they replaced him with Desmond Trufant, so they can get by if they have to do so. Even so, another corner is needed. They also need help inside on the line. They did sign Danny Shelton and Nick Williams, but is that enough?”
In the aftermath of Detroit’s busy first few week, there’s been little said about who the Lions could be targeting now. It seems a safe bet that at least one of these needs if not both will also be addressed in the draft and fairly early.
Prisco is right, however. Both do remain big holes on the team’s defense. Someone like Ngakoue could be a perfect addition to fix this need in the trenches once and for all.
Lions Named NFC North Free Agency Winner
Bleacher Report already sees the team as coming out ahead even without this potential addition. The website revealed its winners of free agency from every division, and the Lions were the choice for the NFC North. Writer Maurice Moton likes what the Lions have been able to do thus far. Here’s a look at what he wrote:
“The Detroit Lions became the New England Patriots of the Midwest this week. The team signed linebacker Jamie Collins and defensive tackle Danny Shelton, who will likely replace Devon Kennard and A’Shawn Robinson, respectively. The front office also acquired Duron Harmon via trade.
Lions head coach Matt Patricia coached two of those players when he served as the defensive coordinator in New England. Clearly, the 45-year-old lead skipper will attempt to recreate what the Patriots had during his tenure with the club.
Collins can match Kennard’s impact near the pocket and provide more to the pass defense. In addition to seven sacks, he logged seven pass breakups and three interceptions during the 2019 term.
Shelton didn’t play under Patricia in New England, but he had his best season last term, registering career highs in sacks (three) and tackles (61) as a solid run-stopper with an occasional flash near the pocket. The 26-year-old should bolster the Lions’ 21st-ranked run defense.
Harmon has developed into a versatile safety with above-average ball skills in center field. Over the last three seasons, he’s recorded 10 interceptions in primarily a reserve role, though the 29-year-old has played at least 61 percent of the defensive snaps in each of those campaigns.
At safety, Harmon could alternate snaps with Will Harris alongside Tracy Walker.
Detroit lost multiple players in free agency and replaced them with guys who know Patricia’s scheme, which is crucial for a defense that ranked 26th in scoring and allowed the second-most yards last year.
The Lions released right tackle Rick Wagner and saved $6.1 million against the cap. The front office put that cash toward Halapoulivaati Vaitai’s five-year, $50 million deal. That’s a risky investment for a four-year veteran with just 20 starts, but the 6’6″, 320-pound tackle could seal the edge for outside runs and engulf edge-rushers on his side of the line.”
Detroit has been busy in free agency thus far, and obviously, the most active of all the teams in the division this offseason.
By striking this particular trade, the Lions could cement their status as a team ready to turn things around and put their best foot forward for a very important season.
Taking a big swing at Ngakoue is the perfect next move for the team this offseason.