If you read Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press, the Detroit Lions are about to become major players in NFL free agency. The idea of just making it to the playoffs might become a thing of the past. Detroit, who has one of the better quarterbacks in the league and a defense that plays enough to keep other teams honest, will look to secure starter and depth once the market opens next week.
For the long-suffering fans, it must be refreshing to know this organization and general manager Bob Quinn aren’t playing games.
A year after Bob Quinn took a cautious approach to his first free agency as general manager, the Detroit Lions GM said Wednesday there are some “top-end guys that we would like to take a shot at” when the 2017 league year opens next Thursday.
Quinn was not specific about which players or positions the Lions might target in free agency, and he said the Lions’ free-agent approach might ultimately be “in a similar vein” to last year.
These Lions are ready to challenge for the NFC North Title and more than a first-round exit from the second season. On the arm of Matthew Stafford, this team showed it could score with the heavyweights of the NFL. If not for a late-season finger injury, Stafford could have secured the NFL’s MVP award. Now, the former first overall pick in the 2009 NFL Draft must take his game to yet another level.
And he needs help making that happen. Here are five free agents the Detroit Lions could look to sign once the free agency period begins next week.
Logan Ryan, Defensive Back – The Lions are going to look at defensive backs. Ryan, if he leaves the New England Patriots, makes plenty of sense.
While New England had him under contract for what amounted to peanuts, the Lions could afford to sign him to a large deal. Ryan proved he can be a top-tier defender and in the dome, his speed would be a welcomed addition to the Detroit secondary.
Andre Branch, Defensive End – Personally, I am an Andre Branch fan. The miscast defensive end in Jacksonville never lived up to the hype and ability. Injuries had a hand in his lack of performance. In Miami, it was a different story, having a career year and helping the Dolphins to the playoffs.
In Detroit, the former Clemson star could excel on a fast carpet and become an edge rusher projected of him when he was drafted in 2012.
Zach Brown, Linebacker – The Buffalo Bills linebacker is another one of the speed guys who would help the middle of the defense. A former second-round pick by the Titans, Brown found a home in Buffalo. At 6-foot-1 and 250, he made his first Pro Bowl this last season and figures to cash in on a free agent contract.
He fits nicely in Teryl Austin’s defensive system and will help with run defense.
Johnathan Cyprien, Safety – After three ho-hum seasons in Jacksonville, Cyprien finally showed what he could do on a football field. Luckily, it was just in time for him to hit free agency.
Cyprien is a fierce hitter and looked like he improved his cover skills. He was among the team leaders and tackles and also appears to be coming into his own. This could be a mid-range signing that pays off handsomely.
Pierre Garcon, Wide Receiver – If the Lions look to sign a top-name wideout, look for Garcon to be a potential catch. The former Redskins star began his career on the carpet in Indianapolis and was fortunate enough to catch passes from both Peyton Manning and Andrew Luck.
Now, with a strong-armed Stafford slinging footballs, it makes sense to bring in a veteran who instantly makes the offense that much better.