While the Detroit Lions’ first wave of signings is likely to become official later on Thursday, they are far from done in free agency. With plenty of needs still left to be filled, Detroit is expected to be very active.
And the Lions still have plenty of spending money to use. They entered the tampering period with about $45 million in total cap space, meaning after saving money for the draft class and keeping a little extra for injury insurance, they likely had about $30-35 million in 2019 cap space to spend. Here’s how much 2019 cap space they’re reportedly using on their signings thus far:
- Danny Amendola - $4.5 million
- Justin Coleman - $3.39 million
- Trey Flowers - $6.4 million
- Jesse James - $2.3 million
- Zach Zenner - ? (UPDATE: Justin Rogers is reporting his cap hit is only $1.05 million)
- Oday Aboushi - likely between $1-2 million
So not taking into account Zenner’s figure, that’s around just $18 million spent against this year’s cap, leaving half of their spending money still out there.
With that in mind, here are 10 players remaining in the free agency pool the Lions should consider going after.
LB Zach Brown - Brown was released by Washington on Wednesday, after the team tried to trade him. Washington was extremely tight on cap space, so the move—which freed up $5.75 million—made sense for the team. Brown, oddly, has been one of the best off-ball linebackers, excelling both in coverage and run defense, yet will be on his fourth team since 2014 once he eventually signs with a new franchise. Linebacker isn’t the biggest need for the Lions, but Brown may be the best player left on the market.
G D.J. Fluker - The Lions signed Oday Aboushi for offensive line depth, but they still don’t have a true starter at right guard. Fluker has six years of starting experience under his belt (74 starts) and moderate success. Fluker also played one year under current Lions offensive line coach when with the Chargers.
G Mike Iupati - The four-time Pro Bowler may not have a lot left in the tank. His past two years have been injury filled, missing a total of 25 games since 2017. It’s a similar conundrum that Lions had with T.J. Lang, but if they can get him cheap, Detroit has some additional depth that can take on the risk.
G Quinton Spain - Another one of our top five free agency guards, Spain is one of the younger options (27). While he’s coming off a tough year in Tennessee, he’s a mauler that could help Detroit become a more physical offense.
RB Marshawn Lynch - Okay, this is admittedly a shot in the dark, but perhaps Lynch would jump at the opportunity to reunite with his former offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell. Lynch is well past his prime and is seriously considering retirement, but, man, he would be an entertaining addition.
CB Ronald Darby - If the Lions are looking to make one more splash signing, Darby may be the best option. Arguably the best cornerback on the free agency market, Darby would come in and immediately fill Detroit’s CB2 hole with another young player (25). He’s coming off a torn ACL and has already started to make his round of visits, but it would make sense for the Lions to kick the tires.
TE Jared Cook - Cook is visiting the Saints, but the Lions should at least see if they can get a visit in. The 31-year-old tight end is actually coming off a career year with the Raiders (896 yards, 6 TDs) and would give the Lions the No. 1 receiving tight end their offense needs. His veteran presence would also be welcome if the Lions decided to draft a tight end this year.
LB Jamie Collins - I made a case for Collins a week ago, and while he would come with a significant risk, Patricia knows Collins well enough to know if he’s worth it or not.
S Eric Berry - Once upon a time, Eric Berry was on his way to a Hall of Fame career. From 2010 to 2016, he made five Pro Bowls and was named an All Pro three times. Unfortunately, the injury bug has infected him and he’s played just three games in the past two seasons, leading to his release this week.
It appears Berry has been cleared from surgery and still wants to play. He’s a huge risk, but with an enormous upside.
S Ha Ha Clinton-Dix - Kenny Golladay embarrassment aside, Clinton-Dix still has value in the NFL. Though Clinton-Dix is more of a coverage free safety—something the Lions may believe they have already in both Quandre Diggs and Tracy Walker—he also brings a fair amount of versatility with him, with the ability to drop into the box and even occasionally blitz. Clinton-Dix is currently visiting the Bears, but the Lions could ask him to jump on a short flight to Detroit to get into the mix.