With that in mind, the Bleacher Report NFL staff encouraged the Lions to pursue veteran defensive back Logan Ryan in free agency.
“The last few weeks have not been kind to the Lions’ secondary. Safety C.J. Gardner-Johnson is on injured reserve with a torn pec and nickel corner Brian Branch suffered an ankle injury on Thursday,” the BR staff wrote. “While Branch did return to the game and the X-rays on his ankle were negative, the coaching staff would be smart to play it safe with the rookie this early in the campaign.
“Bringing in a veteran like Ryan would allow the Lions to have a replacement for either Gardner-Johnson or Branch as Ryan has experience playing safety and wide and slot corner at a high level. The 10-year veteran can serve as an insurance policy and a mentor for Branch to help elevate the Alabama product’s game even further.”
Ryan has played 10 years in the NFL. He helped the New England Patriots win the Super Bowl during the 2014 and 2016 seasons.
Detroit’s Secondary Injuries
Injuries are piling up for the Lions at a couple different position groups, one of which is the secondary.
As the BR staff noted, C.J. Gardner-Johnson and Brian Branch are the two most significant players injured in Detroit’s defensive backfield. While Branch could possibly play through his ankle issue in Week 5, Gardner-Johnson is expected to miss a majority of the season.
Cornerback Emmanuel Moseley is also hurt and still hasn’t made his 2023 debut. NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero reported on September 28 that he expected Moseley to make his Lions debut in Week 4 against the Green Bay Packers.
However, Moseley was instead inactive for the fourth time this season.
How Logan Ryan Could Fit With the Lions
Lions head coach Dan Campbell implied on October 2 that Moseley has another chance to play in Week 5. That would be a big boost for Detroit’s secondary.
“We believe it will make us better,” Campbell told reporters. “He’s another guy we’d like to see if we can get him going this week.”
Even still, Ryan is an interesting possibility for the Lions.
At 32 years old, Ryan isn’t going to play outside corner at a high level anymore despite his experience. He lined up for just 33 snaps at wide corner from 2021-22.
But during the past two seasons, he’s still been very versatile, playing free safety, box safety and slot corner. In 2021, which was the last season he played at least 15 games, Ryan played at least 187 snaps at all three positions.
Signing Ryan would give the Detroit secondary insurance at several different positions. His experience should also only be a positive for a young player such as Branch, who is off to a terrific start in his career.
Ryan has started 121 games in the NFL. Over 149 appearances, he’s posted 742 combine tackles, 98 pass defenses, 19 interceptions and 13 sacks while playing for the Patriots, Tennessee Titans, New York Giants and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Last season, Ryan recorded 37 combined tackles, 3 pass defenses and 1 interception in nine games with the Buccaneers.