In this final installment of the free agency round up, I’ll be covering the rest of the roster, spots that didn’t get full coverage prior to free agency opening, and letting me type about things that are actually happening as opposed to things I think should happen, well, unless I’m talking about the draft that is. I’ve covered offensive tackle, defensive end, defensive tackle, cornerback, wide receiver (in 2 parts) and safety. That leaves linebacker, interior offensive line, tight end, quarterback, and running back. This is not going to be as deep per position, but here are the guys at each spot that I think the Lions should go after.
The Lions need guys that can play the run and cover, or cheaper specialists in one area of the other. Right now there is no starting Middle Linebacker on the roster.
#1 Tahir Whitehead is a solid two down linebacker, and there are worse players in coverage. It seems likely that another team is going to offer him more than the Lions are willing though.
#2 Vincent Rey He would be a guy that could fill the two down role but need to be spelled in two minute situations and obvious passing downs.
#3 Jasper Brinkley is a solid run support Linebacker, that for some ungodly reason Jerry Jones hired to play in Dallas’ Tampa Two defense last season. He got cut but played well for the Giants to finish off the season. Low cost replacement for Whitehead if he’s not re-signed.
#4 Danny Lansanah is a 30 year old guy who’s shown ability to play the run, but limitations in coverage.
#5 Zachary Orr. He was an undrafted free agent signed by the Ravens in 2014. He was an all conference USA player in college who needed some time to build. He’s a Restricted free agent who has yet to be tendered, but has increased his playing time in each year. He graded a 74.1 in the snaps he did play according to Pro Football focus.
A veteran presence in the middle of the line could be a solidifying presence.
#1 Alex Mack, former Pro Bowler who chose to void his contract with the Browns. He is exactly that veteran presence that can get the line going in the right direction.
#2 Stefen Wisniewski, he took a one year deal last season because he was coming off an injury. He’s looking for a longer term deal this year and could be the solution for years.
#3 Will Montgomery, 33 year old veteran guy who suffered a broken leg in week five last year. Cheap replacement for Swanson at best, veteran back up for center and both guards at worst.
#4 Doug Legursky, He’s a capable veteran depth signing. If the Lions want to go with Swanson as their starter, having a back up plan is not a bad thing.
#5 John Sullivan, likely he’d be a training camp cap casualty if he were going to be available. His salary is $5.5 million, and that’s a lot if they don’t see him as the starter.
I am assuming that they eventually cut Pettigrew and go in a more well-rounded direction for the back ups.
#1 Mercedes Lewis, a solid veteran blocking and receiving option.
#2 Jermain Gresham. A more athletic blocking tight end than Pettigrew at this point.
#3 Ladarius Green, were they planning on a long term solution as the second tight end Green has been second fiddle in San Diego for years.
#4 Zach Miller, former Pro Bowler with some injury history that slowed him down, now a competent well rounded back up tight end.
#5 Brandon Pettigrew, with a cheaper price tag
The Lions need to invest in some insurance at the quarterback position.
#1: Drew Stanton, he has absolutely proven that he is a capable backup who can lead a good roster to wins if it’s not entirely on his shoulders.
#2: Matt Moore, 16 TDs, 9 INTs last time he got a stretch as the starter. That’s a solid ratio, unexpectedly athletic.
#3: Chad Henne, Was willing to stick around and help groom Bortles, he could keep a season from going “2015 Cowboys”.
#4: Chase Daniel, preseason superstar with a good reputation but he looks good on a limited sample size.
#5: Brian Hoyer, once he is replaced in Houston he’s likely to be cut and I doubt anyone is going to bring him in immediately as a starter.
The Lions need some power in the backfield, but they need it on a budget.
#1 Alfred Morris, he has not been the same player under Gruden that he was early in his career with Shanehan. With that said the stretch zone read that failed miserably with Joique Bell all of last season in Morris’ bread and butter.
#2 LaGarette Blount is about the easiest option to connect the dots with Quinn. The Lions’ GM knows exactly what the player can and can not do. What he can do is move the pile, what he can’t do is catch.
#3 C.J. Anderson. He’s a RFA but the Broncos tendered him at the lowest level, meaning they can match any offers, but he’s a guy I’d look in to.
#4 Bernard Pierce played his best football under the watch of Jim Caldwell in Baltimore. After a poor season in Jacksonville where he was a terrible fit, and never saw the field, he’s probably a league minimum option.
#5 Terrance West has had games where he looked like a good player, but a lot more where that was not the case. He’s a guy that could find his groove, but would likely be a specialist short yardage back who plays on special teams for league minimum.
So that’s it for this pre-free agency look at the Lions’ needs. If you want a deeper look at one of these positions I do take requests, I could be convinced to bang one out. I just wanted to get these out there before the madness begins, which it kind of already has with legal tampering season in full swing. For all I know in the few hours it’s going to take Mike to edit and approve this, half of these guys will have re-signed with their old clubs. I can still be found on Reddit at /u/A5hcrack, and twitter @a5hcrack. Come find me if you have questions, comments or concerns.