The Lions have been pretty busy in free agency so far, bringing in some high end talent & some much needed depth on the defensive line & special teams, here’s a quick rundown of the signings so far:
Ricky Wagner, RT, BAL: 84.5 rating from ProFootballFocus, Wagner was the best RT on the market and looking to upgrade & provide some verteran leadership, Bob Quinn went out and got his man.
Wagner is a big upgrade on the right side over Riley Reiff and potentially allow for 2nd year guard Joe Dahl to start at RG with experience on either side of him in Wagner at RT and Travis Swanson at C.
Paul Worrilow, LB, ATL: Worrilow was an undrafted free agent signing by the Falcons in 2013 & immediately offered production. Averaging nearly 80 tackles per year in his first three years, he wasn’t used much on defense in 2016, but maintained his excellent special teams play.
Bob Quinn has given nice contracts to players like Don Carey, who are excellent on special teams and continues to do so with the Worrilow contact, but also adding to the LB depth that was severely lacking in 2016.
Akeem Spence, DT, TB: Spence was brought in on a 3 year deal worth over $10 million, meaning that Bob Quinn & staff see something in Spence that ProFootballFocus does not. Rating him at just 39.2, he would appear to be a depth player, allowing for some rest here & there for Haloti Ngata, while A’Shawn Robinson should get a much bigger workload in year 2.
However, with that contract & guaranteed money the Lions gave to Spence, it appears that they believe he can work into a rotation at DT right away and provide an impact.
Cornelius Washington, DE, CHI: Washington has 3 career sacks in 4 years in Chicago, but injuries have played a big role in limiting his production. Washington believes that he fits perfectly into Teryl Austin’s defensive scheme & his athleticism could lead to a break out season like Kerry Hyder had for the Lions in 2016.
D.J. Hayden, CB, OAK: Rated just a 48.6 by ProFootballFocus in 2016 Hayden has never lived up to his hype coming out of University of Houston in 2013 when the Raiders drafted him 12th overall. Hayden has been injured often, including a “substantial” hamstring injury that ended his 2016 season.
Hayden was moved inside to the slot in 2016 & was improved over his previous, inconsistent seasons in Oakland, perhaps allowing for Nevin Lawson to stay outside with Darius Slay and bringing in some experience in the slot, which has morphed into a much more important position in the NFL over the years, with so many 3 wide receiver sets being used.
In addition to the above signings, the Lions have also released veteran linebacker DeAndre Levy, saving some cap room in the process as Levy has been hampered by injuries the past two seasons and there was no guarantee that he’d be able to stay healthy and his cap number was too high to take that chance.
Veteran guard & EMU alum T.J. Lang & Arizona TE Darren Fells are also coming to town to meet with the team, but while Lang seems like a long shot signing at this point, Fells could provide some depth at TE & he is a very good blocking TE, something the team does not currently have.
The Lions are also bringing in former Ohio State standout wide receiver Corey Brown from the Panthers. Brown was supposed to take a step forward each of the last two seasons in Carolina with a dearth of wide outs on the team, but failed to step up. Perhaps coming to a team where they are looking for speed in the slot could help rebound a disappointing career, to this point.