Top Former Lions Free Agents Who Could Make Sense for Return

Ezekiel Ansah

Getty Ezekiel Ansah before a Seahawks game in 2019.

The Detroit Lions have rounded out their roster in a big way for the most part, and even though that is true, there are some depth needs that have to be addressed before the season gets going.

While the Lions are probably done spending big money, there’s no question the team still has some needs and some ways to try and fix them. At this point, not many former Lions still exist on the market that would make sense for the team, but there are a few names that do make sense to join the roster.

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If the Lions were to look strictly at former players to fill the voids still on the roster, who could they target? Here’s a look at some of the top names that are still free agents.

Golden Tate, Wide Receiver

With the Lions, the wideout put up a solid 4,741 yards, 22 touchdowns and 441 receptions. He cracked the 2014 Pro Bowl for his work with the Lions, and was a solid player with the Seattle Seahawks before that. The last two seasons in New York, Tate’s numbers have fallen off considerably given his 8 touchdowns and 1,064 receiving yards, but there is little question what he brings to the mix as a stable, veteran presence for a team and a locker room. It could be a fun way to give the offense a little more juice to bring Tate in as insurance for the slot position. A return could be a very good idea for the Lions and for Tate as well, to finish out his career in a spot where he was always comfortable.

Ezekiel Ansah, Edge

Once one of the more productive players on the Detroit defense, Ansah piled up 48 sacks with the team from 2013-2018, and has lost his way since leaving, with just 2.5 sacks to his credit since. Injuries have slowed down Ansah to the point where he is a shadow of his former self on defense, but for the Lions, the team might only need to use him in spot duty as depth to help rush the passer. Like many of the players on this list, Ansah knew the Detroit culture well and was a part of the last team to be close to tasting success. He could help be a mentor for the young pass rushers if the Lions wanted him back.

Tahir Whitehead, Linebacker

Whitehead departed the Lions a few years back and was a casualty of the team’s culture purge, but from a leadership standpoint, the linebacker brought it constantly to the locker room. There could be a need for another veteran linebacker on the roster, and with Whitehead understanding the lay of the land in Detroit, it could represent an intriguing reunion for the team to bring him back into the defensive fold. Whitehead could be a good addition to the team for those reasons.

Josh Bynes, Linebacker

Bynes spent what could have been seen as a few under-the-radar or forgettable years with the Lions from 2014-2016, but he was sneaky productive with 142 tackles, 0.5 sacks, 1 interception and 1 forced fumble in his time with the team during that span. Bynes is 31 now, but if the Lions have depth issues at linebacker, he could step up and give the team some leadership and some snaps. He has already done it a few times in his career, and could do so again in a pinch for the team and their new staff in 2021.

Danny Amendola, Wide Receiver

Amendola might be finished at this point, but if he were looking to play another season, the Lions could look to take a chance on him for the same reason that they might be interested in Tate. Amendola is a good slot player and someone who could add a measure of stability to a group that could need it in a big way coming into the 2021 season. The ship has probably sailed on Amendola, but if the Lions felt as if they needed some veteran production, he could be a call to make that could help for the extremely short term.

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