On Tuesday, Ryan Mathews ranked all 27 Detroit Lions who are set to become free agents. Detroit is set to have six exclusive right free agents, four restricted free agents and 17 unrestricted free agents.
According to Mathews, Ezekiel Ansah is the Lions’ best free agent on the team. But just because someone is the best, doesn’t mean they should be the team’s highest priority. If he hits the free market, Ansah will likely pull in a huge salary, but even if Detroit decides to go the franchise tag route, it may end up costing them around $18 million just for a single year of Ansah.
So today’s Question of the Day is:
Taking into account presumed costs, if you could only re-sign one Lions free agent, who would it be?
My answer: Haloti Ngata.
In all honesty, I could see the Lions moving on from any and all of their unrestricted free agents. None are absolutely essential to their future, and guys like Tahir Whitehead and Ezekiel Ansah may just be asking for too much. Now that Bob Quinn is clearly putting his stamp on the team, we may be in for the “Next Man Up” mentality, and that could mean moving on from some talented players.
That being said, Haloti Ngata has already expressed interest in returning to Detroit next year, and he should come at a manageable cost. Ngata turns 34 this weekend, and he is just coming off a reasonable two-year, $12 million contract. I’m assuming the Lions would be able to get him at a slightly discounted price on a one-year deal.
The Lions have a defensive line problem as is, and keeping Ngata around not only adds another player in the depth chart, but gives the team a mentor to help with the young guys currently on the line and any draft picks that may be added this year.