Lions Urged to Add Former $21 Million Starter

Dan Campbell

Getty The Bleacher Report NFL staff argued head coach Dan Campbell and the Detroit Lions should sign defensive back Bryce Callahan.

The Detroit Lions are tied for the best record in the entire NFL. But there are always ways to get better.

The Bleacher Report NFL staff argued on October 16 that the Lions should consider adding veteran cornerback Bryce Callahan to improve their secondary.

“The Lions don’t have many weaknesses right now as they’ve looked like one of the best teams in the NFC this season,” the BR NFL staff wrote. “However, their secondary is pretty beat up, especially at cornerback as Emmanuel Moseley tore an ACL in his right knee after coming back from tearing the left one last year, and Brian Branch is recovering from an ankle injury.

“Adding Callahan would give Detroit a veteran corner who has experience playing out wide and covering the slot, so he could fill in for Moseley or Branch if need be. It also doesn’t hurt that the former Charger had three interceptions and six passes defended in 2022.”

Callahan has started 56 games in his NFL career. He recorded 47 combined tackles, 6 pass defenses and 3 interceptions, one of which he returned for a touchdown, with the Los Angeles Chargers last season.

In 2019, Callahan signed a 3-year, $21 million contract to join the Denver Broncos.

How CB Bryce Callahan Fits With the Lions

Callahan began his career as an undrafted free agent for the Chicago Bears in 2015. He made the team as a rookie and started three games during his first season.

In four years with the Bears, Callahan became an important defensive back, playing mostly nickel cornerback. He recorded 123 combined tackles, including 11 tackles for loss, 8 quarterback hits, 4 sacks, 20 pass defenses and 4 interceptions in 45 games in Chicago.

He started 29 contests for the Bears, including 10 in 2018. During that season, Chicago was first in points allowed and third in yards yielded.

However, Callahan broke his foot in Week 14 of the 2018 season. After signing the $21 million contract with the Broncos, he missed the entire 2019 season due to complications from his foot surgery.

In 2020, though, he returned to have one of his best seasons. Callahan posted an 84.1 player grade at Pro Football Focus that season, which is the highest of his career. In 10 starts, he had 42 combined tackles, including 1 for loss, 5 pass defenses and 2 interceptions.

Last season, Callahan started a career-high 11 games for the Chargers. He played 508 of his 585 defensive snaps (86.8%) at slot cornerback, according to PFF.

If the Lions signed Callahan, they could deploy him at nickel cornerback until rookie Branch returns from injury. Callahan also has the experience to play outside cornerback if need be.

Other Potentially Bigger Needs for the Lions

Branch has been a significant loss for the Lions. He hasn’t played either of the past two games since suffering an ankle injury against the Green Bay Packers in Week 4.

But, Branch’s progress has encouraged Lions head coach Dan Campbell. On October 16, Campbell told reporters that Branch “looked pretty good” at the team’s most recent practice and is “trending in the right way.”

If Branch returned for Week 7 versus the Baltimore Ravens, the need to sign Callahan is  not nearly as high.

Detroit’s biggest need at the moment is arguably running back depth. David Montgomery suffered a rib injury against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and could “be down for a little bit” according to Campbell. Fellow running back Jahmyr Gibbs has missed the past two games with a hamstring injury.

Campbell explained that “he feels good” about Gibbs’ chances of playing in Week 7, but the Lions are thin on the running back depth chart without Montgomery. Craig Reynolds and Devine Ozigbo led Detroit to only 40 rushing yards and 1.8 yards per carry against the Buccaneers after Montgomery’s injury.

Therefore, if they do add a veteran, it may make the most sense for the Lions to sign a running back this week. USA Today’s Lions Wire’s Max Gerber argued the team should consider adding veteran Leonard Fournette.

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