The Detroit Lions have a busy week ahead of them as they prepare for NFL free agency to begin. As that market gets set, where do things look to be heading for the team?
Already, there’s been a bit of a consensus early on as it relates to what the Lions could be expected to target first. To nobody’s surprise, the defense could be the biggest point of emphasis for the roster.
ESPN insider Jeremy Fowler was hosting a chat on Twitter with fans on Thursday, March 9. Twitter user Detroit Lions Fan Page was present on the chat and asked what the Lions could plan on doing. As Fowler explained in his response, cornerback is one spot they are targeting, in addition to linebackers.
“Me: “Have you heard anything on the Lions?” Jeremy Fowler: “Lions are looking at corner in the free agent market. Some teams think they’ll be interested in Jalen Ramsey. Not sure how active they’ll be there.” Mentioned Cam Sutton. Also mentioned LBs,” the site tweeted.
Following up on Ramsey, Fowler had a hit on SportsCenter on Friday, March 10 where he explained Ramsey is indeed on the market and the Lions are still considered “somewhat involved” for the cornerback.
Jason Burgos of SportsNaut.com had a recap of the visit in which Fowler called the Lions a team still potentially in-play for Ramsey given they are active in the cornerback market.
“Jalen Ramsey, he is available via trade. I’ve talked to a lot of people who believe the Detroit Lions are somewhat involved here. GM Brad Holmes was with the Rams for a long time as an executive. They are in the cornerback market, so that makes some sense there,” Fowler said as recounted in the piece.
Sunday afternoon, however, Ramsey was traded to the Miami Dolphins for a third-round pick and tight end Hunter Long. As Jordan Schultz of Score reported, the Lions were interested before the deal was done.
“Sources: Lions were among the other teams interested in Rams All-Pro CB Jalen Ramsey as well, but the Dolphins were the best fit and destination for Ramsey all along,” Schultz tweeted.
With the Ramsey situation now settled, the Lions could be expected to stay involved at cornerback in free agency.
Lions Needs at Corner, Linebacker Make Sense
In terms of two spots where the Lions are looking to make an impact on the market, it isn’t a shock to hear the team is targeting the cornerback market as well as linebacker.
Most of this offseason, the Lions have looked like a franchise that is destined to make some big fixes on that side of the football. The reasoning? The team had a dreadful season on that side of the ball statistically in both of those spots.
Detroit finished 30th in pass defense, allowing 26 touchdowns and over 245 yards per-game on average. Worse, they allowed a total of 4,179 yards through the air. That points to a group that simply didn’t get much going all season long.
At cornerback, the team got inconsistent play out of Jeff Okudah, but could be looking for players both young and old to pair with the cornerback. They could be set to lose Amani Oruwariye and Mike Hughes in free agency as well.
In terms of linebacker, the Lions have a stud in Malcolm Rodriguez, but beyond him and Derrick Barnes, a 2021 fourth-round pick, there isn’t much on the roster. Barnes posted 47 tackles and one sack last season, and looks to build on a decent first two seasons in the league which has seen him post three sacks and 114 tackles.
In spite of this, there are questions about whether free agent Alex Anzalone will return. Beyond that, the team doesn’t have much depth at all, with just Julian Okwara, James Houston and Anthony Pittman left on the depth chart in addition to Rodriguez and Barnes.
The chance exists for someone to come in and stabilize the room in both aspects, and a player with some upside as well as pedigree playing for a winning team could fit the bill. At least one addition at both spot could make plenty of sense.
Keep your eyes on both of these positions early on within the free agency negotiation window this week.
Cornerbacks Lions Could Target This Offseason
The good news for Detroit? There are plenty of options for the team this offseason, both in free agency and the draft. There is even a good option for the team to look at via trade, as well.
If the Lions choose to address the position in free agency, there are top names from both conferences available. Perhaps the top corner that could hit the market is James Bradberry of Philadelphia, who has 18 career interceptions. Jamel Dean of Tampa Bay is another possible fit, and potentially Marcus Peters of Baltimore, Bradley Roby of New Orleans and Jonathan Jones of New England.
In the draft, there figures to be a dearth of options for the Lions, from Devon Witherspoon of Illinois to Christian Gonzales of Oregon as well as Kelee Ringo of Georgia. Any of those players could be first-round picks to help Detroit on the back end in the draft.
With Ramsey out of the picture, the Lions figure to be big players within the cornerback market this offseason in free agency and the draft.