Defensively, the Detroit Lions have multiple holes, so it stands to reason that the team would be pondering ways they could find some bigger fixes at immediate spots of need.
One of those places could very well be the secondary, and it’s been a common theme this offseason to proclaim the spot a huge one of need for Detroit. The Lions have multiple holes to patch, and could look at doing so with a few different players that could be fits at various levels for their defense.
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A sneaky deep free agency class awaits the Lions in 2022, and there are multiple players the Lions should hone in on that could help their defense moving forward.
Here’s a closer look at what defensive backs make the most sense for the Lions in free agency. Be sure to check back in the coming days for a look at more free agents at other spots which make sense for Detroit in 2022.
Marcus Williams, Safety, New Orleans Saints
Since he broke into the league in 2017, Williams has been one of the most consistent safeties in the league statistically. In total, Williams has put up a very solid 261 tackles to go with 15 interceptions. He has also broken up 38 passes, and has 1 touchdown to his credit along with 3 forced fumbles. Here’s a look at some of his best work in the pros thus far:
Williams cut his teeth in the league with New Orleans under the leadership of Aaron Glenn on the defensive side after coming to the Saints following a productive career at Utah, and reuniting with Glenn could prove to be a big deal for Williams if the Lions were to call him in free agency. The Lions could crave this player even if they bring back Tracy Walker.
Stephon Gilmore, Cornerback, Carolina Panthers
Adding a veteran guy like Gilmore could be an intriguing proposition for the Lions to remember at cornerback. He has been an elite player in the NFL as recently as 2019 when he was named the NFL Defensive Player of the Year award winner. He’s also been a two-time first-team All-Pro in 2018 and 2019, as well as a five-time Pro Bowler and a Super Bowl champion. Gilmore has also delivered statistically with 427 tackles and 27 interceptions in his career. He was a former first-round pick of the Buffalo Bills where he played from 2012-2016 before signing with New England in free agency. The Patriots shipped him out in 2021 after a remarkable six year run to Carolina, and he wasn’t able to make a huge difference with just 2 interceptions.
Gilmore is now a free agent, and at 31, should still command a decent amount of coin on the market given his past as a player. The highlights show why signing him might not be a bad idea for a team like Detroit in need of veteran help on the back end:
A veteran cornerback was missing in Detroit last year, so Gilmore could be a good stop-gap option to help the team and bring along the young players. To that end, his addition would make a ton of sense for the Lions.
Quandre Diggs, Safety, Seattle Seahawks
A former Lions player who was shipped out of town erroneously by the previous regime, Diggs’ potential return could symbolize a bit of a rebirth in Detroit’s locker room as he was one of the most beloved players at the time he was traded away. A star who got his start in Detroit, Diggs didn’t slow down after his trade to Seattle, with 158 tackles, 13 interceptions and 20 passes defended after joining the Seahawks. If he came back, it would be to help anchor a group where he once got his start in Detroit. Here’s a reminder of how good Diggs was with the Lions:
Still beloved by the community, it wouldn’t be a hard transition for the player at all if the Lions were interested in a return engagement. This time around, Diggs would probably enjoy the Dan Campbell experience much more than playing for Matt Patricia.
Bryce Callahan, Cornerback, Denver Broncos
An undrafted free agent scoured by Chicago in 2015 out of Rice University, and he wasted no time making an impression in Chicago and sticking. With the Bears, Callahan made his mark in a big way with 4 interceptions and 4 sacks in four years of work. After that, Callahan signed in Denver with Vic Fangio where he was a starter for the Broncos. He collected 2 interceptions during his time there. Here’s a look at some of his best work from the 2020 season:
As a whole, Callahan has 194 tackles, 6 interceptions and 5 sacks to his credit in the league. Those totals are pretty decent for a player who few likely expected to stick around long. He could help bring some veteran stability to a spot where the Lions need more than a bit of a boost for this coming year.
Jabrill Peppers, Safety, New York Giants
A name that will be familiar to Lions fans who also watch the Michigan Wolverines, Peppers was one of the top playmakers in his draft class. After coming into the NFL, Peppers has made plenty of plays to the tune of collecting solid stats thus far at safety. He has put up 333 tackles, 4 interceptions, 4.5 sacks, 4 forced fumbles and 5 fumble recoveries. Here’s a look at some of his highlights so far in the league:
Something working either for or against Peppers in Detroit could be the presence of John Dorsey in the front office. Dorsey dealt Peppers when he was in Cleveland, and has a knowledge of the player. It’s safe to say he could be a lower-cost alternative that could help provide the Lions with some depth at the position.