Just minutes after news broke that the Detroit Lions would be meeting with highly-sought-after defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins (and Alan Branch), NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport dropped another big piece of news regarding Detroit’s defensive line.
Ricky Jean Francois met with the Lions last week, and now appears to be on the verge of signing with the team.
Much like Alan Branch, Francois has a direct connection to Matt Patricia, having played nine total games (including playoffs) with the Patriots last year. Francois was not a starter in New England but part of their heavy rotation as their No. 4 defensive tackle. Prior to his time in New England he played some 3-4 defensive end in Washington, finishing the 2016 season with the NFL’s 19th-best run stop percentage.
Assuming he signs with the Lions, Francois would become part of the rotation, but at 31 years old, he’s unlikely to assume a starting role. Therefore, I don’t think this potential signing would complicate Detroit’s chances of signing Hankins or Branch, other than limiting their cap space a little more. For reference, Francois signed a one-year, $2 million contract with the Packers last year. So even his salary cap impact isn’t likely to be significant enough to deter Detroit from signing another defensive tackle. After losing Haloti Ngata to free agency, the Lions could use the extra defender anyways.
UPDATE: Francois has told Yahoo Sports’ Jordan Schultz that he will be signing with the Lions:
UPDATE No. 2: Schultz may have jumped the gun here. The Detroit News is reporting there is no done deal in place:
A source familiar with negotiations tells me Ricky Jean-Francois has not signed with the Lions. Calls reports erroneous.— Justin Rogers (@Justin_Rogers) March 21, 2018
Doesn't mean it won't happen, but it's not a done deal at this point.
And then there’s this from the man himself:
UPDATE No. 3: Schultz is now saying that the two sides have traded proposals, but “nothing is imminent.”
Stay tuned. We’ll continue to update this post with clarifications.