After the releases of T.J. Lang and Nevin Lawson (though Lawson’s release has yet to be confirmed by the team), the Detroit Lions have an additional $13+ million in cap space as we enter the new league year this week. That puts their total cap space around $43-45 million, depending on your source. Relatively speaking, Detroit is now in the top 10 of the NFL in cap space.
That puts them in a unique position to be uncharacteristically aggressive in free agency this year. General manager Bob Quinn hasn’t shied away from signing some big names in the past, but we haven’t seen the Lions go after the very top players in quite some time. The Lions could truly make a splash signing or two, the question is: should they?
While the Lions have a lot of cap space to work with, they also have a lot of needs to cover. They need a couple tight ends, a starting-level right guard, an additional receiver, a running back, an edge rusher (or two), a No. 2 cornerback and potentially another safety, too. And that’s barely touching on the team’s need for depth.
So today’s Question of the Day is:
Should the Detroit Lions make a “splash” free agency signing, and, if so, at what position?
My answer: I think the Lions can more than afford to make one true splash signing while leaving themselves plenty of money to fill other needs and round out depth. But if you’re thinking about pie-in-the-sky fantasies of signing Landon Collins, Anthony Barr and Jesse James all this offseason, I think you need to temper your expectations a bit. While the Lions could probably fit all those guys in their salary cap, they’re unlikely to win three bidding wars like that.
As for the position to go after, it’s hard to say. Given that Dante Fowler just re-signed with the Rams to a one-year, $14 million contract, it seems like edge defenders may come a little too pricey for the Lions. And considering there’s likely to be a good pass rusher available for them with the eighth overall pick, maybe it’s best Detroit doesn’t over spend on a free agent pass rusher, even though the need is there.
It may be much more economical to go after some of the best defensive backs in this year’s free agency class. With Glover Quin and Nevin Lawson now gone, Detroit has a lot of snaps to make up for, and it may be worth it to grab a guy like Landon Collins and/or Ronald Darby.
Although neither position is vastly deep—and therefore may come at a premium price—I think I’m more willing to spend on the secondary than the defensive front given both the price and the availability of certain players.