Lions Encouraged to Make ‘Luxury’ Move for $43 Million Starter

DaQuan Jones

Getty Bleacher Report's NFL staff urged the Detroit Lions to consider targeting defensive tackle DaQuan Jones in NFL free agency.

It’s pretty well known that cornerback, edge rusher and guard are the biggest needs for the Detroit Lions this offseason. Bleacher Report’s NFL scouting department didn’t disagree. But in an exercise identifying each team’s under-the-radar needs, BR named safety, wide receiver and defensive tackle other areas of the roster the Lions could address this offseason. The BR team argued that at defensive tackle, veteran DaQuan Jones could be a nice fit.

Jones’ 2-year deal with the Buffalo Bills is expiring. He will become an unrestricted free agent in March.

“Given Detroit’s cap situation and open playoff window, adding a veteran who can contribute right away would be logical,” wrote the BR scouting department. “Paying to acquire a tackle like DaQuan Jones or Justin Madubuike would be a bit of a luxury move, but it would leave Detroit virtually free of weaknesses in the front seven.”

According to Spotrac, Jones has made just north of $43 million in his 10-year NFL career. His most recent deal was a 2-year, $14 million contract with the Bills.

In 2023, he posted 16 combined tackles, including 4 tackles for loss. He also had 5 quarterback hits and 2.5 sacks in 7 games.

What DaQuan Jones Could Bring to Lions

Analysts are calling for Detroit to make a big splash for their front seven and add an elite edge rusher. In a perfect world, that’s the best move the Lions can make.

But pursuing Jones is a cheaper option and will still shore up the front seven. It will also take a defensive strength for the Lions and make it even better.

While Jones has never posted more than 3.5 sacks in a season, he’s always been stout against the run. With Jones starting 16 games during 2022, the Bills finished fifth in run defense.

Buffalo dropped to 15th against the run in 2023 with Jones missing 10 games because of a pectoral injury.

When healthy in 2023, Jones posted his best Pro Football Focus run defense grade since 2017.

The Lions had the No. 2 run defense in the NFL last season.

It’s also not like Jones wouldn’t be an asset as a pass rusher as well. He just probably shouldn’t be counted on for a lot of sacks.

Although it was only seven contests, Jones recorded the highest PFF pass rushing grade of his career in 2023. His career high in sacks came during 2017.

Projecting Jones’ Next Contract

With edge rusher being a bigger need and more than $48 million in cap space, it makes sense to expect the Lions to make a big splash at pass rusher this offseason.

But Detroit does have contract extensions it likely wants to offer to quarterback Jared Goff and wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown. Other recently drafted stars such as right tackle Penei Sewell could receive extensions as well.

Combine that with the team’s other needs at cornerback and guard, it’s possible the Lions supplement the interior of their defensive line with a smaller move in free agency and make the splash at edge rusher in the draft.

Coming off a breakout fourth season, Justin Madubuike is an intriguing option that pundits have linked to Detroit. Bleacher Report made that same connection on February 19.

However, Spotrac projected Madubuike to be worth more than $81 million on a 4-year contract this offseason. That’s assuming he reaches free agency. The Baltimore Ravens could keep Madubuike by placing the franchise tag on him.

Jones may not offer the same long-term upside. But Spotrac predicted his market value to be $6.8 million on a 1-year deal.

The production and likely contract desire make Jones an underrated potential addition at an under-the-radar need for the Lions this offseason.

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