Free Agency Starts Next Week, And Detroit Still Has Time To Figure Out What To Do With Its Roster.
In less than a week, the 2018 season will be officially underway as free agents will be able to talk to other teams and sign contracts. Detroit has yet to announce any signings so far, or thrown any indication on who they could be looking at in a week. With tight end Eric Ebron possibly on the trade block, that is the only talk that is coming out of Detroit.
Usually, in this series, I go over one player per article, but with free agency ending soon, it is time to group up the backups and focus on them as one. This article has the remaining six free agents for Detroit and what they should do in the re-sign or rebuild phase.
The Backups On Defense
Nick Bellore – LB. While he also played some fullback, that extra workload shouldn’t be needed anymore from Bellore in 2018 as I believe they finally sign a fullback and actually use him under new head coach Matt Patricia. Bellore played in 13 games and only had six total tackles. While he didn’t do much, Bellore is a good depth linebacker and on a one-year deal for cheap, he would be worth coming back.
If Detroit were to move on from Bellore, some options can be seen here in my Tahir Whitehead article.
Jordan Hill – DT. Never hitting the field as he dealt with a bicep injury and getting put on the IR list before the season began, Detroit should move on from Hill. Now while that is harsh to say about somebody who never played, he never got his shot and all, Detroit needs help badly on the line and Hill has only had one good season out of five in the NFL. They can’t risk and hope he returns to what he was, as they could get better players in free agency or the draft.
If Detroit moves on from Hill, some options can be seen here in my Haloti Ngata article.
The Backups on Offense
TJ Jones – WR. Coming off the best season of his career with 30 catches for 399 yards and one touchdown, Detroit needs to do their best to try and bring back Jones. He will ask for more money, but going from $690K to around $1 million isn’t much of a bump and something Detroit should do hands down.
If Jones can get more money elsewhere and Detroit is forced to find a replacement, they could grab Deonte Thompson from the Buffalo Bills, Donte Moncrief from the Indianapolis Colts, or Cody Latimer from the Denver Broncos in free agency. If they have to look into the draft, some names they could look at are D.J. Moore from Maryland, Ka’Raun White from West Virginia, or Cam Phillips from Virginia Tech.
Zach Zenner – RB. One of the Detroit Lions Podcasts favorite players, Zenner saw a step back in 2017. With the running back position being one that the Lions need an upgrade in 2018, Zenner could be on his way out of Detroit, and possibly the NFL. Zenner could be brought back for a one-year deal in case the team lets loose of the other low tiered running backs on the team and keeps Zenner. Overall Detroit should keep him around for another year and see what they can get out of him.
Detroit will most likely add somebody to the team at the position and those names to watch are Carlos Hyde from the San Francisco 49ers, Dion Lewis from the New England Patriots, or LeGarrette Blount from the Philadelphia Eagles. The NFL draft is where a majority of people believe where Detroit will get their running back, and that could be Derrius Guice from LSU, Nick Chubb from Georgia, or Rashaad Penny from San Diego State.
Don Barclay – OT. Appearing in three games, Barclay did average for a backup offensive tackle. Barclay can also play guard, so his versatility is nice to have. Detroit shouldn’t have to waste a late pick on depth for the offensive line, and with limited amount of good vets as backups, Barclay should be brought back to Detroit.
If Detroit wants to make some changes with the depth of their offensive line, they could sign Eric Winston from the Cincinnati Bengals, Earl Watford from the Arizona Cardinals, or Michael Schofield from the LA Chargers.
If the team decides to take an offensive lineman in the later rounds, they could look at Cole Madison from Washington State, Bentley Spain from North Carolina, and Chukuma Okorafor from Western Michigan.
Mike James – RB. Just like Hill, James missed the entire 2017 season as he was on the IR list with a concussion. James has zero chance to return to the Lions with no play time to go off of and with the team looking to upgrade the position, he has no future with the team. Any possible replacements can be the same ones I had with Zenner earlier in the article.