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2018 NFL free agency preview: 5 predictions for the Detroit Lions

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We make five predictions about what the Lions will do for free agency.

NFL: Pittsburgh Steelers at Detroit Lions Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

We’re now just hours away from the legal tampering period in free agency. Starting at noon ET, teams will be able to negotiate with players whose contract expire at the start of the new year. For the following 48 hours, rumors will be flying, agreements will be starting to be made and free agents will start packing their bags.

At this point, outside of rumors that the Detroit Lions are bringing in two different players—Seahawks cornerback Deshawn Shead and Titans running back DeMarco Murray—we really don’t know what the Lions will do.

So without any insider knowledge of what the Lions are thinking, here are my five predictions for free agency.

The Lions will not sign a big name defensive lineman

There’s little doubt that the Lions need some help on the defensive line. Even though they locked up Ezekiel Ansah and Kerry Hyder, there is a lot more work to do with that unit.

However, it just doesn’t seem like Bob Quinn’s style to go out and pay a guy like Dontari Poe or Sheldon Richardson. As I pointed out last month, the Patriots have also been known not to spend wildly on a pass rusher, instead relying on rotational guys to step up when needed.

I think we’ll see the Lions approach free agency much like they did last year. Sign a couple of depth players and see where they can take you. Then, if the opportunity to get a game-changer in the draft arises, you jump on it.

Ndamukong Suh will be released by the Dolphins, but the Lions won’t show any interest

There have been murmurs that the Dolphins are going to release Suh to free up some much-needed cap space. If they were to give Suh a June 1 designated cut, it would free up $17 million in cap room. They wouldn’t get that relief until June 1, but that’s much better than the just $3.9 million in cap relief they’d get immediately without the special designation.

Regardless, even though I argued that it would make sense for both sides, I don’t see the Lions pursuing Suh. He’d still come at a hefty price, and I think the organization has moved on.

The Lions will sign two starting-caliber linebackers

Linebacker is an underrated need for this team right now. With Tahir Whitehead and Paul Worrilow set to become free agents, and the Lions currently slated to start two second-year players at linebacker, they’re going to need some reinforcements.

Detroit absolutely needs a veteran linebacker who knows what to expect from Matt Patricia, which is why I think Marquis Flower is a perfect fit. However, that alone won’t be enough. Detroit is going to need to add a lot of competition, especially if they are thinking about showing more 3-4 looks in 2018.

The Lions will sign a veteran quarterback

Call me crazy, but I’m not ready to pencil in Jake Rudock as the backup quarterback in 2018. I do think the Lions will offer him an exclusive rights free agent tender—and Rudock will obviously sign it—but I think Detroit will bring in a veteran quarterback to challenge him for the spot.

Last week I made a list of potential backup quarterback options. Though Ryan Fitzpatrick has since been re-signed by the Buccaneers, I still think Drew Stanton, Chad Henne or Josh McCown could be a valuable addition.

The Lions will not trade Eric Ebron

I know. I know. Two days I ago, I wrote that I thought Ebron would be traded. However, time has passed and there has been no reported movement in talks. I think the Lions would love to trade him, but they aren’t getting the offers they want. My guess is they’re asking for something like a third or fourth-round pick and no one is biting.

Detroit knows that Ebron can provide some value in his last year on the contract, and while they don’t want to overpay for that, if they don’t get a good offer, they could at least get one more year of production and then hope to get a compensatory pick in 2020.