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NFL free agency: Jaguars release veteran TE Marcedes Lewis—Next Detroit Lions target?

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Could the former Pro Bowl tight end be the Lions’ next TE target?

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NFL: AFC Wild Card-Buffalo Bills at Jacksonville Jaguars Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

You can add one more veteran tight end to the free agency pool. On Tuesday, the Jacksonville Jaguars surprisingly released Marcedes Lewis, freeing up $3.5 million in cap space:

The move is particularly shocking, because just a month ago the Jaguars picked up Lewis’ one-year option for the 2018 season. Obviously, this move was more about cap space than it was the player, and Lewis is not particularly happy with the way the Jaguars handled this situation.

So now Lewis hits free agency after the first wave of free agency, and if you’re thinking he may be a good fit for the Detroit Lions, you’re absolutely right.

The Lions have already brought in Logan Paulsen, Brent Celek and Luke Willson for visits over the past week. In a way, it certainly seems like the Lions are attacking this need in a similar way they did for running back: Bring in as many veteran players as possible, make a choice, and then likely add another in the draft.

In fact, according to the Detroit Free Press’ Dave Birkett, that’s exactly Detroit’s plan and they’re telling the visiting tight ends that. “The team has indicated to players its hosted that it plans to both sign a veteran and add a draft pick at the position this offseason,” Birkett wrote.

Lewis fits that mold quite perfectly. Though his days of catching 50 passes a year are over, Lewis remains one of the most effective blocking tight ends, even at age 33. From PFF back in February:

In a no-brainer, the Jaguars picked up the option on Lewis’ contract, keeping the league’s best run-blocking tight end in Jacksonville at least one more season while they may look to lock him up with an extension perhaps through the end of his career. Lewis finished 2017 with an 87.1 run-block grade, more than 3.5 grade points higher than the next-closest tight end (Rob Gronkowski).

The Lions have yet to make a decision at tight end, but they are very clearly interested in adding at least one, and bringing in Lewis for a visit makes a lot of sense. He won’t be an Eric Ebron replacement, but he could very much replace Darren Fells while mentoring second-year TE Michael Roberts and potentially a rookie tight end, should Detroit draft one.

Of course, a lot of signings have made a lot of sense on paper, only to have Detroit look the other way. We’ll see if Bob Quinn has anything in the works for Lewis.