Now that the Detroit Lions are officially in the offseason, it’s time to look ahead to free agency. Before we can look at all of the new, shiny castoffs from other teams, the Lions will face some interesting decisions with their own players whose contracts have come to an end. Including restricted and exclusive rights free agents, the Lions have __ players with contracts that will expire at the beginning of the new league year in March.
For now, I’m going to stick with the likely unrestricted free agents, because there are some conflicting reports on restricted free agents and exclusive rights free agents.
Unrestricted free agents (17)
1. Graham Glasgow
All signs point to Glasgow testing free agency, since the Lions didn’t seem too interested in extending him this past summer. However, Glasgow provides versatility, above-average play, and reliability that this team seems to covet so much. Money must be the sticking issue, because the Lions’ interior offensive line has actually been a strength this season, and it’d be a shame to disrupt that in 2020.
2. Tavon Wilson
Though Tracy Walker and Will Harris are the future for the Lions at safety with Quandre Diggs gone, Wilson provides great leadership and experience at the now-thin safety position. He played excellent down the stretch and would be a good locker room presence for another year or two.
3. A’Shawn Robinson
Robinson has had an up-and-down career, but with the sudden possibility that Damon Harrison Sr. may retire, Robinson’s value to the team is suddenly heightened. Currently, Robinson is the closest thing they have to a run-stuffing nose tackle outside of Harrison, so Detroit may be willing to bring Robinson back despite mediocre play in 2019.
4. Danny Amendola
The Lions receiver nearly set career highs in receiving yards in 2019, coming up just 12 yards short—and he did so with backup quarterbacks for half the season. Though he’s 34, Amendola is the kind of intense and focused player the Lions want in that locker room, and he clearly has something left in the tank.
The Lions probably want to go younger with their slot receiver sooner rather than later, but Amendola could be back on a modest one-year deal.
5. Jermaine Kearse
Kearse was starting to get some hype in the offseason as a nice, versatile option for the Lions, but a broken leg in the preseason ended his season before it started. Considering his ties with offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell, there’s a good chance he gets another opportunity in Detroit in 2020, and the Lions could use the insurance with Marvin Jones Jr. and Kenny Golladay entering contract years.
6. Kenny Wiggins
It’s clear from the Lions’ guard rotation in 2019 that the Lions love what they have in Wiggins. His season ended with surgery, so the Lions will have to keep a close eye on how that will affect his future, but with Glasgow’s future in Detroit uncertain, Wiggins could be the Lions’ versatile reserve again in 2020.
7. Jeff Driskel
Before his own season-ending injury, Driskel showed serious potential to be the Lions’ backup quarterback for the immediate future. With almost no preparation, Driskel took a good Chicago Bears defense to the wire, and followed it up with competitive games against Dallas and Washington. His mobility brings an added bonus to his game, and gives Detroit some hope to catch opponents off-guard if Matthew Stafford ever goes down again.
8. Mike Daniels
Daniels seems to love the Lions organization and Matt Patricia, which could increase his chances of returning in 2020. But the Lions have to be seriously concerned about his ability to stay healthy at age 30. They clearly didn’t get their money’s worth in 2019, so they’ll be hesitant to throw a bunch his way this offseason.
9. Sam Martin
Martin finally looked more like himself this year after battling through injuries in the two previous seasons. His net average was above 40 for the first time since his outstanding 2016 season and he dropped 31 punts inside the 20-yard line, just two off a career high.
It remains to be seen how much the Lions will spend on a punter, but Martin showed he has plenty left in the tank at the position.
10. Rashaan Melvin
The Lions’ search for a No. 2 cornerback continues. Melvin came in hoping he could turn his career around after a down year in Oakland, and while he certainly improved, he still struggled to make much of an impact.
After a promising start, which included five passes defended in the first two games, he only had six in the last 11 games. Fifth-round rookie Amani Oruwariye, on the other hand, had two interceptions in just two starts.
Melvin could stick around for some much-needed depth, but his future is certainly still up in the air.
11. Don Muhlbach
He’s a long-snapper. He’s still doing his job.
12. J.D. McKissic
(Note: It’s unclear, but McKissic may be a restricted free agent.)
McKissic always seemed to be a nice gadget player who did good things when the Lions targeted him. However, his role diminished as the season went on, and Ty Johnson’s promising finale could make McKissic’s future with the team unnecessary.
13. Miles Killebrew
Though Killebrew’s four years in Detroit never progressed to the level many had hoped, he remained a tough-nosed, valuable special teams contributor.
Too small to be a linebacker, and not quite instinctive enough to be a full-time safety, it’s hard to see Detroit putting too much value into Killebrew, considering their insistence on having players fill multiple roles.
14. Logan Thomas
While Thomas actually had a better season that Jesse James, he, too, was part of Detroit’s disappointing tight end group. With 16 catches and 173 yards in 2019, his production is replaceable. That being said, he does bring some special teams value as well.
15. Oday Aboushi
Despite the injuries and the rotation on the offensive line, Aboushi only played in 83 total snaps in 2019. The Lions clearly favor Wiggins as their veteran guard, but Aboushi could always hang around as extra depth.
16. Caleb Benenoch
Benenoch was a late-season addition due to injury, and was not active for any games in Detroit. In 2019 alone, he spent time with the Buccaneers, Patriots, Panthers, Cowboys and Lions. He’s only 25, so he could potentially re-sign and get a chance in training camp.
17. Jamie Meder
(Again, it’s unclear if Meder will be considered a UFA or an RFA)
Meder saw his first action in two years on Sunday, but, like Benenoch, he was only really brought in because the Lions were in a desperate situation at defensive tackle. He seems unlikely to return.