A month ago, the Detroit Lions added Ricky Jean Francois to the team just before they opened for training camp. At the time, the move was considered fairly minor. While the Lions certainly needed help at defensive tackle, Francois was a guy that has played for several different teams over the past few years, and was considered on the decline at 31 years old.
But Francois has looked five years younger in camp. He quickly assumed a starting role with the team, and has been one of the best players throughout the preseason. Throw in his desire to teach Matt Patricia’s defensive scheme to his peers, and Francois has turned out to be one of the most important additions the team has made this offseason.
But on Monday, the Lions made another potentially big move. They added another veteran defensive lineman in Robert Ayers, and boy do they need the help. Having amassed just one sack in the preseason, it was abundantly clear that the Lions’ pass rush was in dire need of some change.
So today’s Question of the Day is:
What grade do you give the Robert Ayers signing?
My answer: While it’s tough to give this addition a grade without knowing the exact contract terms—all we know is that it is a one-year deal per ESPN’s Adam Schefter—I’m going to give this move a B+ based on the talent of the soon-to-be 33 year old.
Ayers’ statistics have been underwhelming for the past couple years. In his past 24 games, he only has 8.5 sacks.
But by all means, those stats are fairly misleading. Ayers has been one of the most consistent pass rushers over the past two years, consistently helping the Buccaneers bring pressure from the edge. Just take it from Pro Football Focus’ Brett Whitefield:
Fans will see low sack totals and think Ayers doens't have much left in the tank, but over the past two seasons, no edge defender has more hits on the QB than Ayers' 35.— Brett Whitefield (@PFF_Brett) August 27, 2018
Admittedly, Ayers has had the benefit of playing alongside the likes of Gerald McCoy in Tampa and Jonathan Hankins and Jason Pierre Paul in New York—players much better than the teammates he’ll have in Detroit—but Ayers has proven he can bring the heat on his own, too.
At this point in time, I’m not expecting Ayers to suddenly turn the Lions’ pass rush into a strength or anything that drastic, but it’s a clear upgrade of what the Lions had at defensive end, and that’s not very easy to come by at this point in the offseason.
Grade the Robert Ayers signing
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