The Detroit Lions have lost eight of their last 10 games against the Minnesota Vikings, so it might not be a terrible idea for the team to kick the tires on some of Minnesota’s former players, including former Pro Bowl free agents Xavier Rhodes and Anthony Barr.
The Lions don’t have many major roster needs before training camp, except perhaps at cornerback, where Jeff Okudah is recovering from an Achilles injury that sidelined him for all but one game in 2021, and linebacker, which appears light on “impact-type players,” according to Sports Illustrated’s Vito Chirco.
Here’s a look at five free agents whom the Lions should be getting on the phone with ahead of training camp.
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Cornerback Xavier Rhodes
At this point of his career, Xavier Rhodes may be seen as a player who has lost more than a step or two, but he still has veteran savvy and pedigree. Rhodes, 32, played seven solid seasons for Minnesota, racking up three Pro Bowls and one All-Pro nod with the team before signing with the Indianapolis Colts, where he played the last two years. Statistically, he’s been no slouch, with 453 tackles, 13 interceptions (two for touchdowns), three forced fumbles and 92 passes defended. Here’s a highlight reel from his two seasons with the Colts:
For the Lions, he could serve as an important veteran mentor for a young group that figures to have the players to become good in the near future.
Linebacker Anthony Barr
Another ex-Viking, Anthony Barr was considered a favorite to sign with Detroit in 2019, but that did not materialize. Now, Barr, 31, is looking for a job and could be a good depth player to help stabilize a group that’s been called the Lions’ “biggest weakness.”
Linebacker Kwon Alexander
A player familiar to head coach Dan Campbell and defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn from their year and a half together in New Orleans, Alexander also could offer the Lions some help in the middle. Alexander, 27, has 521 career tackles and 12 sacks in his seven-year career. He’s coming off a one-year, $1.3 million deal with the Saints.
Campbell and Glenn could offer him a soft landing, and he could still see plenty of big-time snaps on a Lions defense that is desperately trying to improve.
Cornerback Janoris Jenkins
Janoris Jenkins was drafted in 2012 as a second-round pick of the then-St. Louis Rams. He made an imprint on the league early on, returning three touchdowns as a rookie, a record once held by Lions legend Lem Barney. From there, Jenkins went to the New York Giants in 2016 where he made an impact.
Jenkins was a Pro Bowler as well as an All-Pro that season, and then joined the New Orleans Saints in 2019 and 2020, when played with Glenn and Campbell before playing for the Tennessee Titans in 2021. Here’s a look at some of Jenkins’ best work on the field so far:
Jenkins, 33, has 576 tackles, 27 interceptions, nine touchdowns, seven forced fumbles and 124 passes defended in his 10-year career. Jenkins has the kind of stats that could be appealing to a team like Detroit that needs a back-end boost.
Cornerback Kevin King
Though he never played for Minnesota, Kevin King is yet another ex-rival of the Lions. His five season with the Green Bay Packers has placed him on the radar of Detroit fans. At 27, King is young and one of the reclamation projects the Lions could see as making sense given his age and abilities.
King has played in 51 games collecting seven interceptions and putting up 197 tackles. King also has 30 passes defended, two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries.
While King may have worn out his welcome with the Packers and has struggled at times, the Lions could likely get him on the cheap to add to some veteran depth on the back end with league and division experience. He could be the kind of player they could help reclaim. As July deals with upside go, this could be a good one to remember for the Lions.