The first day of 2019 free agency came and went without a peep from the Detroit Lions. Fear not, fans, as the Lions are expected to finalize and announce the four reported signings sometime on Thursday, but for now (as of me typing this), the deals are still just agreed upon.
But with most of the contract details now in, we can give these imminent signings a fair analysis now. If you missed the contract breakdowns of each player, you can view them here:
Justin Coleman contract with Lions: 4 years, $36 million, $19 guaranteed. Bases of 805K, $6.95M, $8.95M, $8.95M, signing bonus $10.15M, 50K workout bonus each year. 2019 cap hit is $3.39M.— Justin Rogers (@Justin_Rogers) March 13, 2019
- Oday Aboushi contract details still unknown (up to $2 million)
So today’s Question of the Day is:
Which of the Lions’ four new free agent “signings” is your favorite?
My answer: While Trey Flowers is obviously the biggest signing and most significant, it was also the most costly and comes with the most inherent risk.
So instead of taking Flowers, I’m going to go with Justin Coleman. I admittedly overlooked nickel corner as a need for the Lions, but this tweet from Pro Football Focus pretty much proves just how big of a hole it was on this roster last year:
Just a reminder of the #Lions DBs in the slot in 2018:— PFF DET Lions (@PFF_Lions) March 11, 2019
Nevin Lawson- 236 snaps, 113.8 passer rating allowed
Darius Slay- 82 snaps, 136.7 PR
Teez Tabor- 69 snaps, 149.1 PR
Jamal Agnew- 55 snaps, 108.3 PR
Mike Ford- 26 snaps, 109.7 PR
Cre'Von LeBlanc- 19 snaps, 118.8 PR
Nevin Lawson was this team’s nickel corner last year, and he was bad enough to get himself cut this year. Everyone else who took turns in the slot did just as bad as him, or in some cases even worse.
Coleman was downright dominant in the slot with the Seattle Seahawks over the past two years. His speed allowed him to stick with shifty slot receivers and even made him an underrated threat as a blitzer.
And he comes with a little more versatility than originally thought. In his first NFL stint with the Patriots, Coleman played mostly outside corner, as the Detroit News’ Justin Rogers pointed out on Twitter. It wasn’t nearly as many snaps as he played in Seattle, but it gives you an idea of how Matt Patricia may view him. I still think he’s the team’s nickel, but he could jump to the outside in a pinch.
The biggest issue with the signing is the contract. At four years, $36 million, that’s a tough pill to swallow, but looking at the details, it’s really more like a two-year deal. Again, the Lions are only taking a tiny hit in the first year ($3.39 million), and while that number jumps to $9.5 million in 2020, the Lions could bail on the contract in 2021 and save over $6.4 million. If they hang onto him for three year, the final year is especially easy to get out of, saving $9 million in cap while incurring just a $2.5 million dead money hit.
Given the nature of NFL offenses in the modern era, the importance of a nickel cornerback cannot be overstated. The Lions have themselves one of the best in the business, and while they likely overpaid a bit for him, that’s how free agency works. I like this signing a lot.
What is your favorite Lions’ free agency ‘signing’ so far?
This poll is closed