NFL Free Agency: Young Bills LB Fits Profile of Quality Lions Addition

Tremaine Edmunds

Getty Tremaine Edmunds celebrates on the field for the Bills in 2022.

The Detroit Lions continue to push toward the start of the offseason, and as they do so, their biggest needs will continue to come into focus.

Defensively, there isn’t much the team doesn’t need to think about adding, and that includes the spot of linebacker. Detroit has made some young additions there in recent days, but they shouldn’t let that stop them from adding a bigger piece in free agency.

Fortunately, there are plenty of players that fit the team set to hit the open market. They vary in age range and ability level, so the Lions will have many chances to address this need capably in the days ahead.

Where should the pursuit start for the Lions? Here’s a look at some of the names the team should remember at linebacker for this year.

Tremaine Edmunds, Buffalo Bills LB

Unlike some of the other names, Tremaine Edmunds would offer the Lions some youth at the position. He’s not inexperienced, though, even though he is much younger than others on the list.

After being a first-round pick in 2018, Edmunds has put up some solid numbers in the league. He has 565 combined tackles, 32 tackles for-loss, 6.5 sacks, five interceptions and 35 passes defended. That shows his range as a complete linebacker, and a player who can play both the run and the pass in elite fashion at his position on the field.

As a Pro Bowl player in 2019 and 2020 who is also just 25 years old, Edmunds is the kind of player the Lions could lean on to be a big part of their future as a quality investment.

Lavonte David, Tampa Bay Buccaneers LB

Any list of which linebackers Detroit should look at must start with Lavonte David relative to all he has accomplished in football already.

As a rookie, David was a 2013 first-team NFL All-Pro, and a second-team All-Pro in 2016 and 2020. He cracked the 2015 Pro Bowl, as well. Statistically, he has been dominant, putting up 1,335 tackles, 29 sacks, 27 forced fumbles and 12 interceptions. He also claimed Super Bowl 55 with the Buccaneers.

The highlights from last year show a very active player that can cover a lot of ground on defense:

David is currently 32 years old, but could be the kind of veteran presence a team like Detroit craves given his playoff experience and ability to make big plays consistently on defense. A team like the Lions that is young at linebacker could certainly benefit from what he brings to the mix.

Bobby Wagner, Los Angeles Rams LB

Much like David, Bobby Wagner is another veteran name that makes sense for the Lions to not only elevate play at linebacker, but mentor the future at the position.

In his career prior to 2022, Wagner had accounted for 1,383 tackles, 23.5 sacks and 11 interceptions. He was also a six-time first-team All-Pro and an eight-time Pro Bowl player. Things didn’t trail off considerably after Wagner was picked up by Los Angeles, however. During the 2022 season, Wagner posted 140 tackles, two interceptions and six sacks to go with five passes defended.

It’s clear a player like Wagner can help the Lions, but only if the price is right and he agrees to buy into the vision of the team. With the Lions turning the corner into a contention window, this could be a good time for them to woo a star like Wagner to perhaps help them over the top.

Eric Kendricks, Minnesota Vikings LB

Continuing the theme of cagy veteran players that could fit Detroit’s defense is former rival Eric Kendricks, a linebacker who has spent plenty of time opposing the Lions in his career.

Kendricks has spent eight years with Minnesota prior to his release, and enjoyed an elite 2019 season where he was a Pro Bowler as well as a first-team All-Pro. Statistically he has been solid as well, with 919 tackles, 15 sacks, four forced fumbles, six fumble recoveries, nine interceptions and three touchdowns to his credit.

Like David and Wagner before him, Kendricks is older at 31, but could be a quality player in the middle to mentor Detroit’s younger players. Combined with his knowledge of the NFC North and his potential motivation to avenge being let go by the Vikings, and this could be a fantastic move.

Denzel Perryman, Las Vegas Raiders LB

At 30, Denzel Perryman is far from a new player in the league, but he has enough youth that he could be a cheap signing for the Lions to gain some leadership at linebacker as well as playmaking.

The former second-round pick in 2015 spent his first five years in the league with the Los Angeles Chargers, then moving on to the Carolina Panthers and eventually the Las Vegas Raiders in 2021.

Perryman made a Pro Bowl in Las Vegas last year, and has collected 586 tackles, six sacks, four forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries, 11 pass deflections and five interceptions in his career.

If the Lions want a player who could prove a good veteran value at a position of need while not breaking the bank, Perryman could be a good fit for the team.

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