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Free agency rumors: Lions interested in Falcons LB Paul Worrilow

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The Lions’ first rumored free agent target is a replacement-level linebacker.

Atlanta Falcons v Los Angeles Rams Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images

The negotiating period of free agency is just a few days away, beginning March 7. NFL teams aren’t allowed to talk to soon-to-be free agents or their teams before that time, but that doesn’t stop the rumor mill from churning. Teams can talk internally about their own plans to attack free agency, and those plans can potentially leak. Of course, agents of players are equally likely to leak misleading information about their clients in order to draw higher interest and better deals, so you always have to question the veracity of these kinds of rumors.

The speculation has already begun with the Detroit Lions, and we have the first potential target for the team in free agency. According to Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald, the Lions are interested in Falcons linebacker Paul Worrilow.

Worrilow went undrafted in 2013 and was subsequently picked up by the Falcons. He was a huge surprise in his rookie year, starting 12 games at middle linebacker for Atlanta and picking up 127 tackles and 2.0 sacks. The next year, Worrilow put up even better numbers as the Falcons’ full-time starter, earning 142 tackles, 2.0 sacks and two forced fumbles.

But Worrilow slowly fell out of favor in Atlanta. Though they re-signed him to a one-year deal for 2016, he was demoted to mostly a special teams role. Here’s what our sister-blog The Falcoholics had to say about Worrilow hitting free agency:

He’s been a good contributor on special teams, but maxed out in his rookie year when he displaced an awful Akeem Dent. He’s frequently been the biggest liability on the defense.

I wish him the best, but Worrilow is still a pretty bad defensive player regardless of scheme, responsibility, or experience. He may be one of the slowest linebackers in the league, and can’t make up for it with big hits.

The Lions’ interest shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. Though Worrilow clearly has his limits, the Lions’ linebackers in 2016 were their biggest liability. We also saw last year that general manager Bob Quinn prefers his free agents to bring some special teams skills to the table. The fact that Worrilow has some starting experience likely means he can come in and compete for a starting job, or, at the very least, be ready to come in off the bench.

It’s also interesting to see that the New England Patriots reportedly have interest in the young linebacker. This suggests Quinn may have been eyeing Worrilow back in his days with New England.