Just a week after adding veteran tight end Luke Willson to the roster, the Detroit Lions have double dipped at the position in free agency. As first reported by ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler, the Lions will be signing former Falcons tight end Levine Toilolo to a one-year deal:
Lions signing veteran TE Levine Toilolo to one-year deal, per source. Veteran spent last five years with Falcons.— Jeremy Fowler (@JFowlerESPN) March 28, 2018
UPDATE: The Lions have made the signing official. They have not disclosed contract terms.
Contract terms have yet to be released, but according to the Detroit Free Press, the Lions have been offering “minimum salary-type offers” to some free agent tight ends.
Last week, the Lions brought in Toilolo for a visit just day before they ended up signing Willson. At first, it seemed the signing of Willson meant that Toilolo was out of the running, but Detroit apparently felt they needed more help at the tight end position.
Interestingly, head coach Matt Patricia mentioned at the owners meetings this week that tight end specifically one of the team’s biggest needs. “I would say right now, if we had to go line up and play, we’re probably short maybe at the tight end position,” Patricia told reporters on Tuesday per MLive.com. “Try to get another body in there if we can, from a free agency standpoint.”
Well, it didn’t take long for Patricia to keep his word, and with Toilolo, the Lions have a young option (26 years old) with some potential. Toilolo is a former fourth-round pick who hasn’t blossomed as an NFL receiving threat yet, but has gradually improved as a blocker. The Falcons gave Toilolo at three-year, $12 million extension in 2017, but cut him earlier this year to save $3.5 million in cap space.
Toilolo will now join both Willson and Michael Roberts as the Lions try to replace the void left by Eric Ebron’s release. Though Detroit may not have a single player that can replace Ebron’s skill-set, they may be in good enough shape where they don’t need to enter the 2018 NFL Draft with tight end as a high priority. That being said, Willson and Toilolo are just on one-year deals, so the Lions should still be on the lookout for long-term solutions.