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Friday, March 1, 2013

15 Free Agents the Detroit Lions should pursue in 2013

As the Lions set to enter free agency, in less than two weeks, we take a look at every position and break down the players that would fit the Lions scheme, criteria, and cap as we count down the days until the free agent frenzy begins.

Kyle Arrington, CB, New England Patriots- Hofstra, 08-12-1986, 5'10, 196 lbs.
Arrington would add a nice
compliment to Houston at CB.
      Arrington is awaiting his future with the Patriots. As it looks, that door is closing. This move by the Lions  has been endorsed several times, and seems to be a good fit. Free agency will be a good sample to see what the Lions will do with the 5th overall pick. Adding a corner and retaining Chris Houston all but solidifies Alabama's cornerback Dee Milliner going elsewhere.
      Arrington saw the first half of his season go up and down, allowing 76% of his targets completed and 11.7 yards per pass attempt. The second half of the season was much different. Moving inside to nickel, following the acquisition of Aqib Talib, Arrington graded positively in eight of the last 10 weeks of the season  (including playoffs) after a first half in which he graded positively in just four of the first eight weeks, according to Pro Football Focus. He was also particularly good versus the run, grading as the 17th best corner, scoring only one negative grade versus the run all season.
       Many acquaint Arringtons rise to him shifting inside, which was partially true. No better evidence of his strong play then in the AFC Championship game versus the Baltimore Ravens. Lining up against speedster Torrey Smith on may plays, Smith yielded just 3 catches for 49 yards on 7 targets over 66 snaps.

William Hayes, DE, St. Louis Rams- Winston-Salem, 05-02-1985, 6'2, 258 lbs.
Hayes could replace Avril at DE.
      Rotoworld recently addressed each teams free agency fits in free agency with Hayes being the player fitting in Detroit. Hayes had a career year as the Rams No. 3 defensive end and will look for a fit to become a starter elsewhere. The supply and demand looks like the perfect situation for both parties. He was originally drafted in 2008 by the Tennessee Titans when Jim Schwartz was the defensive coordinator, then followed Jeff Fisher to St. Louis. In 2012, while not making a single start, Hayes came in contact with the quarterback 24 times (sacks, hits and hurries) while making 7 sacks and 35 tackles. Putting that in context, Cliff Avril came in contact with the quarterback 35 times in 708 snaps, gaining 9 sacks while Hayes had 7 sacks, 24 contacts with the quarterback in just 378 snaps.
      The best part on Hayes, he's also a plus versus the run. In 16 games, he had a plus grade versus the run 12 times including the last 4.
      As the Lions look to address their need at defensive end with only one currently under contract, Hayes looks to be the best option weighing performance and the amount it would take to acquire him.

Kenny Phillips, S, New York Giants- Miami (Fla.), 11-24-1986, 6'2, 208 lbs.
Phillips would be help to a depleted
Safety group.
      Since Stevie Brown took over at safety, after his injury, Phillips and the Giants have been destined to part-ways. Phillips, a year removed from a four pick season and helping the Giants win the Super Bowl, is just 26 and is entering the prime of his career. In 2012, he graded positive in pass coverage all 8 games he played. He had 24 tackles and 3 passes defended in his backup role. With the question marks surrounding Louis Delmas and the rest of the safety crop in Detroit, Phillips would add a veteran presence with play-making ability to the Lions last line of defense.

Glover Quin, S, Houston Texans- New Mexico, 01-15-1986, 5'11, 204 lbs.
Quin has the making of a playmaker.
      If the Lions are looking to make a significant upgrade via free agency at the safety position, Glover Quin may be their best option. Quin has the speed and quickness (ran a 4.50 40-yard dash) to be effective alongside Louis Delmas. He forced 4 turnovers in 2012, adding 84 tackles and a sack. Quin is has a nose for being around the ball, adding a grade of +5.1 against. This may be tough to pull off, given the cap situation the Lions have and the asking price of Quin. Mayhew has stated he wants to add playmakers to the Lions defense and he would surely do that.

Darryl Smith, OLB, Jacksonville Jaguars- Georgia Tech, 04-14-1982, 6'2, 242 lbs.
If Lions loose out on their own free agent
OLB's, Smith could be called upon.
      If the Lions find themselves in a position were both DeAndre Levy and Justin Durant bolt in free agency, Daryl Smith would be the presumable plan B. Coming off a groin injury that held him to two games in 2012, Smith will look to get one last significant contract for his career. However, if the Lions are to proceed after Smith, it will likely be on a one year deal after the market isn't what he suspected. In 2011, Smith posted 107 tackles and posted a +24.9 overall grade, good for first among outside linebackers. If him and the Lions are able to come together, there's no doubt the veteran leadership      he would bring to the locker room.

Ray Edwards, DE, Free Agent- Purdue, 01-01-1985, 6'5, 273 lbs.
Lions are looking for DE help.
      Remember the discussions around purging for Edwards to the Lions in 2011 or franchise tagging Avril? Yeah, seems like distant memory now. After signing a 5 year $30 million dollar deal with the Falcons, Edwards has failed to meet expectations and was released following week 10. He accumulated just 3.5 sacks in a little over a season and a half for the Falcons adding to his release. Part of his demise in Atlanta, however, was using him as a 3-4 defensive end in their "Big 3 tackle" sets for much of 2012. If the Lions can get him at a minimal price tag, they could do a lot worse than adding the former Viking who had 16.5 sacks his final two season their, just a few short years ago (2009, '10).

Donald Thomas, OG, New England Patriots- Connecticut, 09-25-1985, 6'4, 303 lbs.
      If the Lions are looking to address their right guard situation outside the organization, their may not be a better cost effective option then Thomas. Playing a reserve role for the Patriots, he made seven spot starts when injury's came up. In those seven starts, Thomas had a positive grade in both pass blocking and run blocking four times. A predominant run blocker, Thomas would come cheap and add a solid right guard for the near future.

Mohamed Massaquoi, WR, Cleveland Browns- Georgia, 11-24-1986, 6'1, 210 lbs.
      The forgotten favorite target of Matthew Stafford at Georgia, caught 58 passes for 920 yards and 8 scores in 2008. He went in the second round of the 2009 to the Browns. In his four seasons, he has 118 catches for 1,745 yards and 7 touchdowns. Adding a target Stafford is familiar with and has the ability to be a target near the end zone, the Lions should pounce at the opportunity.

E.J. Biggers, CB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers- Western Michigan, 06-13-1987, 5'11, 180 lbs.
      Another need along the Lions secondary, the Lions have options at corner this year. With the 5th pick and free agency, the former 7th round Western Michigan standout could be one of them. Starting 12 games in 2012, Biggers had 3 turnovers a sack and 51 tackles. Although he seems a great young prize, Biggers struggled in pass defense. His combined 2012 pass coverage grade was negative 9.9 and came through with an overall -14.4 grade. If the Lions look to pursue him on the open market, look for it to be on a one year deal much like they have with Eric Wright, Chris Houston and Stephen Tulloch.

Geno Hayes, OLB, Chicago Bears- Florida State, 08-10-1987, 6'1, 226 lbs.
      The Lions are in need of depth along the OLB position this upcoming season, and Hayes would add that. In 2012, he started only 3 games adding 16 tackles. In his three seasons of starting for the Buccaneers, Hayes forced 8 turnovers and provided a steady hand in the run game. The Lions are in the market for play-makers across their defense, and Hayes would add a cheap resource at linebacker.

Kyle Moore, DE, Buffalo Bills- USC, 10-25-1986, 6'5, 272 lbs.
      In a backup role for the Bills in 2012, Moore started 7 times accumulating 501 snaps. His year started off strong, with his first four adding positive pass rush grades and 2 of his 3 sacks on the year. Moore won't blow anyone away with his production in 2012 (24 tackles, 3 sacks) but adding a cost effective, veteran situational pass rusher to the mix among a depleted defensive end rotation to the team would be a smart move by the front office.

Mike Patterson, DT, Philadelphia Eagles- USC, 09-01-1983, 6'0, 292 lbs.
      Patterson, the former 31st overall selection by the Eagles out of USC, will reportedly visit the Lions after being cut by the Eagles this week. He has great experience working in the wide-9 front from former Eagle and current Lions defensive line coach Jim Washburn. Patterson has had a negative grade just six times in the past two seasons for the Eagles. He has never been a huge presence in the sack category, 4 sacks in 2007 was his highest, but adding the veteran leadership and run presence of a near 300 pound rotational defensive tackle behind Suh and Fairley is a good move by the Lions.

Aaron Curry, OLB, Free Agent- Wake Forest, 04-06-1986, 6'2, 254 lbs.
      The talk of taking Aaron Curry ahead of Matthew Stafford with the 1st pick of the 2009 draft seems silly now for Lion fans. After being waved by the Raiders following week 11 and being on 3 teams in 4 seasons, Curry is entering free agency in 2013. With the Lions current cap situation and two OLB's set to hit the market on March 13th, Curry could add a once viewed potential and depth for a minimal cost.

Steve Breaston, WR, Kansas City Chiefs- Michigan, 08-20-1983, 6'0, 193 lbs.
      The former Michigan standout has been a solid returner his entire career, barring his stop in Kansas City. Coincidentally the Lions are looking for just that following the presumable release of Stefan Logan. Although his 2012 receiving number were down, Breaston accumulated 61 catches for 785 yards and 2 touchdowns in 2011. If the Lions are looking for a cost effective returner and depth at receiver, which seems the case, Breaston could be just the man.

Jim Leonhard, S, Denver Broncos- Wisconsin, 10-27-1982, 5'8, 190 lbs.
      As-for-mentioned, the Lions are currently looking for safety help. Leonhard won't blow anyone away with all-pro play this late in his career, but he certainly could add veteran leadership to a team in desperate need. Leonhard added 18 tackles and 2 interceptions on 1 start last year, helping the Denver Broncos to the #1 seed in the playoffs. He was solid all year adding a +4.6 pass defense rating on 290 snaps. He is a sure tackler who could be the voice of the secondary alongside Delmas. If the Lions fail to find another safety through the draft or free agency, they may turn to a veteran on a one year deal.

Note: Statistical grades found through Pro Football Focus (subscription required).


  1. Aaron Curry? Haven't seen Thomas or Massaquai listed but i like them. how about Levitre or Bush?

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