Former All-Pro Runner Should Top Lions’ Free Agency Wish List

Todd Gurley

Getty Todd Gurley scores a touchdown against the Bears in 2020.

The Detroit Lions have plenty of needs on the offensive side of the ball, but many might not contend their biggest is at running back.

Detroit has a young runner in D’Andre Swift looking to come into his own with more touches and also has Kerryon Johnson in the mix to run the ball as well. That’s good depth, but more might be needed in order to help facilitate Anthony Lynn’s run-heavy offense designed to set up the play action passing game for the receivers and tight ends.

Knowing this, another addition at running back could quietly make plenty of sense in Detroit, and there are plenty of players on the free agency market that could make a lot of sense for the Lions in the days ahead. Most are veteran players that could provide the team some experience, leadership and extra carries to rely on.

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Which players should the Lions be looking the closest at when all is said and done? Here’s a look at the runners the team needs to remember in free agency this season.

Jamaal Williams, Green Bay Packers

Running back depth has been an issue that Williams has had to fight through in Green Bay, but for years, the runner has been a key part of the mix and a durable runner. With his role all but being replaced by A.J. Dillon, the Lions could find a way to work Williams into the mix and add some power to their rushing game. Williams has rushed for 1,985 yards and 10 touchdowns in his career and could be the type of player that lends some depth to the Detroit ground attack and the new physical mindset they want to embody. At 26, he still has plenty of life left in his legs as well.

Malcolm Brown, Los Angeles Rams

Detroit has a history with Brown dating back one offseason given the fact that the team tried to poach him from the Los Angeles Rams. Brown was re-signed, but now will hit the open market as an unrestricted free agent. There’s a tie there with Brad Holmes having brought him to the mix in Los Angeles, so it’s only fair to wonder if Brown would be a runner the Lions would consider strongly as well. He might want a chance to be a featured back elsewhere, but if Brown wanted to be a depth solution in Detroit, the Lions should be the first to make the call given his solid ability to run.

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Corey Clement, Philadelphia Eagles

New Detroit running back coach Duce Staley comes to town and if the Lions have a need at running back, he could be motivated to help fill it with a player he would know quite well in Clement. Perhaps squeezed out of the backfield in Philadelphia, Clement could still deliver in a depth role for the Lions at 26 years old. He’s the type of free agent a team could build around as it relates to getting the most out of a key position on the roster. Clement might be a low-buy option for the team, but one that would do all the little things well in terms of fitting in with this group Detroit already has.

Todd Gurley, Atlanta Falcons

Gurley’s brief foray back to Georgia didn’t go as well, but there is no question he can still bring plenty to the mix as a veteran option for a team like Detroit. Gurley has worked with Brad Holmes before and would have good harmony with incoming quarterback Jared Goff to rely on. Bigger deals may exist for Gurley on the market, but the Lions could snap him up on a lower-term agreement, they have to find a way to try. Gurley’s shelf life might be dying off a bit, but there is no question he can be a solid option at 26 years old. He’s been a perennial Pro Bowl player, All-Pro and is the former NFL Offensive Player of the Year circa 2017.

Adrian Peterson, Detroit Lions

It seems like a long shot that Peterson would return to the team given all the variables at play and his potential desire to chase a ring and play with Tom Brady. Even such, avenues to joining such a team for Peterson could be limited, and the Lions might not look like such a bad option when all is said and done in a few months time. Peterson has said he would be open to a return to the Lions in the past, and this one might drag out a decent way given the options elsewhere on the market. Peterson scored 6 touchdowns for the Lions last year and was a great pro in the running back room. With this in mind, the Lions should see if they can keep him in the mix if he is interested in another short-term deal.

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