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Friday, January 11, 2013

Evaluating Every Detroit Lions Free Agent

           The Lions head into the Off-Season with a list of 30 players set to hit Free Agency. Many tough decisions await GM Martin Mayhew as the Lions try an shake off a 4-12 season. I have separated each player and decided if they should stay or go:


Cliff Avril, DE- Avril, once again, will be in contract negotiations with the Lions after signing him to the Franchise Tag last season worth 10.6 millions. Mayhew has since said it is unlikely they use the Tag again this off-season. Avril turned down the Lions offer, 3 years at $30M with 20 million guaranteed, last off-season betting on himself to turn in another double-digit sack season. He had 9.5 sacks on the season but never seemed to come up with a sack when it mattered. Pro Football Focus rated Avril 38 of 43 Free Agent edge rushers this off-season with a -11.6 rating on 708 snaps. With the Lions holding the 5th pick in the Draft and his Tag price escalating to 12.67M next year for Avril, his days in Detroit seem over.
Verdict: Gone

Louis Delmas, S- Delmas had his troubles staying on the field in 2012, but there is no denying he makes the Lions secondary better. The franchise tag seems out, but Mayhew will do everything in his power to bring the Western Michigan alum back to the Honolulu Blue on a one year deal.
Verdict: Stay

Chris Houston, CB- Houston seems the one who may have Mayhew biting his words. Chris Houston is the best option the Lions have at corner on their roster plain and simple, and may be the best they'll be able to find for  next season. He may not be a true shut down corner, but Houston plays within himself and makes plays, unlike the remainder of their secondary. Detroit will undoubtedly make a push to lock him up long term but if they're unsuccessful, the Franchise Tag seems like an option.

Verdict: Stay

Justin Durant, OLB- Durant is the hard one. He had his best season as a pro, with 103 tckl while leading the team in solo tackles, yet never seemed to make an impact on a game. Mayhew said this off-season he wants to add playmakers to his defense, and with Durant causing only one turnover in his 2 season with the Lions, his days seem over.
Verdict: Gone

DeAndre Levy, OLB- The Lions seem unlikely to part ways with both of their starting outside linebackers this off-season and Levy seems the most likely to stay. For starters, Levy is a year and a half younger than Durant, and seems to be progressing each season he has been with the Lions since moving from the middle to the outside. The other component that may sway Mayhew towards Levy is turnovers. The past three seasons at OLB, Levy has tallied 5 turnovers including one sack.
Verdict: Stay

Amari Spievey, S- This one is completely in the hands of Detroit. Spievey has been inconsistent since moving to Safety for the Lions but as a RFA, Spievey seems likely to be tendered and given a shot to make the team come camp.
Verdict: Stay

Lawrence Jackson, DE- Lawrence Jackson has been a more than capable rotational contributor to the Lions the past 3 seasons, racking up 13 sacks. His price tag should be reasonable and with the depth issues at DE next season, the Lions would be wise to bring Jackson back.
Verdict: Stay

Sammie Lee Hill, DT- Hill has had a modest career for the Lions in his four seasons. While the Lions would love to have him back, he would have to come on the cheap end. With the likes of Corey Williams and Andre Fluellen also hitting the market, the Lions have some thinking to do as to who they should bring back. My guess, Hill thinks he can get more elsewhere and bolts.
Verdict: Gone

Jacob Lacey, CB- Jacob Lacey has a nose for the football in his limited action, 6 INT's in his 4 year career, and seems to be a cheap depth player for a depleted Lions secondary.
Verdict: Stay

Ricardo Silva, S- Silva is still young, and as a RFA, the Lions would be wise to keep him around to compete for a spot at safety in camp.
Verdict: Stay

Corey Williams, DT- Corey Williams is another hard to judge free agent. He is coming off a couple injurys that halted his season and never was able to make an impact on the team. He says he wants to be back but it will come at a monumental pay cut for that to happen. He should see that his days are numbered and sign a team friendly contract to be a member of the Detroit Lions.
Verdict: Stays

Willie Young, DE- Young came into the 2012 season hailed as the Lion most likely to break out, after a 3 sack 2011 season in which Pro Football Focus said he was the most productive Defensive End in football with his limited snaps. He ended 2012 with zero sacks on more snaps and left people wondering what happened. He is a RFA, and will be back in 2013 to show the Lions he is capable of being an every down DE.
Verdict: Stay

Drayton Florence, CB- Florence was very inconsistent for the Lions, and at 32 years old, they're unlikely to bring him back for 2013.
Verdict: Gone

Andre Fluellen, DT- Fluellen hasn't done a lot to merit a return to Detroit. That being said, there won't be any harm in bringing him in to battle for a roster spot in camp.
Verdict: Stay


Gosder Cherilus, OT- Cherilus has had a underwhelming career since becoming the 17th overall pick out of Boston College in 2008. He doesn't excel at either run blocking or pass pro and with Reilly Reiff and Jeff Backus set to return for the Lions, Cherilus looks like the man out.
Verdict: Gone

Joique Bell, RB- Bell has been the empidemy of a diamond in the rough for the Lions. After winning player of the year for Div. II Wayne State, Bell moved from the Bills to the Saints before making an active roster for the Lions in late 2011. He finished the season with 899 all-purpose yards as the Lions 3rd down back, Bell should be easy to retain as a RFA.
Verdict: Stay

Jason Fox, OT-  Fox has yet to see much playing time since the Lions drafted him in the fourth round due to injurys, but with a low salary hit from Fox he should be an easy sign.
Verdict: Stay

Will Heller, TE- Heller has been an excellent backup to Pettigrew and Sheffler the past two seasons. I can see the Lions going to ways, drafting an eventual replacement to those two and letting Heller walk or seeing Pettigrew as the future and keeping Heller as the third string TE.
Verdict: Stay

Kevin Smith, RB- The past couple seasons have ended in speculations that Smith's days as a Lion had ended. This year they have began right were they left off. This year I believe spells the end of smith in Detroit with the finding of Joique Bell. Smith has been a class act here in Detroit and played his heart out for the city of Detroit, but unfortunately all good things must come to an end.
Verdict: Gone

Special Teams:

Jason Hanson, K- One of the few bright spots on a Lions team the past two decades, Hanson has been as consistent as kickers come through his 19 year career. If Hanson wants the kicking job in Detroit, the Lions will welcome him back with open arms.
Verdict: Pending

Nick Harris, P- Harris was awful for the Lions in 2012 finishing dead last in punting for the entire year. Detroit will do everything in its power to acquire another punter in 2013.
Verdict: Gone


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