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Just Say No 4: 5 tight ends the Lions should avoid in free agency

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The Lions should just say no to these guys.

Oakland Raiders v Baltimore Ravens Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

Alright, Lions fans. This is it. The last Just Say No of the year. Free agency is just around the corner. The legal tampering period starts on Monday, and the news is going to be flying around like crazy. I, for one, can’t wait.

So here in the 25th hour, we have to talk about the final major position of need the Lions need to fill during the offseason. That’s tight end.

For me, tight end should be the least of the Lions worries in free agency. They can pick up a nice veteran for cheap. But, in my opinion, the Lions need to focus on other positions here and grab a tight end from the draft that’s stacked with tight end talent. Even if that means taking a guy like T.J. Hockenson with the eighth pick.

If the Lions must get tight end in free agency, these are the five guys they need to avoid.

Tyler Eifert

I knew that Tyler’s career had gone downhill, but I had no idea it was as bad as it was until I looked at his stats. It’s really bad. In 2015, Eifert had a big year that saw him grab 13 touchdowns en route to a Pro Bowl nod. Since then, Eifert has played just 14 games. In those 14 games he’s managed to rack up 619 yards. That’s just 4 more yards than he had in his big Pro Bowl season.

But I get it, I see how players like this get locked into football fans’ minds. He had a really good fantasy season and that now means he’s really good. I call it the Jonas Gray Syndrome. The sad fact is Eifert is extremely injury prone, and I’d be surprised if any team brought him on this offseason.

Levine Toilolo

Levine was the best tight end the Lions had in 2018, but that isn’t saying much at all, and it isn’t a good enough reason to bring Levine back. We’re talking about a guy that caught 21 passes for 263 yards and a touchdown. I’m not super psyched to have a guy like that come back in a prominent role.

Honestly I think the Lions should just start over completely at the position and sign and draft a whole new group.

With that said, this is more about my personal desire to see the Lions make a major upgrade at the position than it is about Levine. The guy can block and play a role here if the Lions do decide to bring him back. I’m just worried they’re going to struggle again to find tight ends in free agency and be stuck in a similar situation to last year.

Antonio Gates

He’s 40 years old!!!

Dwayne Allen

Dwayne is a player that’s already been linked to the Lions. He’s going to be visiting the team soon, and he obviously has some of the qualifications that the team is looking for. The big one being that he’s worn a Patriots jersey before. I’m sure this guy winds up on the team, but would that be a good get? Our own Kent Lee Platte has the perfect explanation for Dwayne.

Better than nothing feels a lot like what the Lions did at tight end in 2018, especially when you look at what Dwayne did in his two years in New England. He caught 13 balls for 113 yards and a touchdown. It’s like they’d be better off sticking with Luke Willson and Toilolo.

Jared Cook

There’s a little point of contention here at Pride Of Detroit when it comes to Cook. Our own Mansur Shaheen put together a list of free agent tight ends the Lions should sign earlier this week. Here’s a bit of what Mansur had to say about Cook.

“Cook quietly had a great 2018 season while playing on a horrid Raiders offense. The 31 year old set career highs with 68 catches for 896 yards and six touchdowns. He clearly has a lot left in the tank and can still contribute at a high level in the NFL.”

I agree that Jared had a pretty decent 2018. I’d even concede that if the Lions signed him, he may give the team some decent production they sorely need at the position.

But still, I have disagree for a few reasons. The first being that Jared will be 32 when the 2019 season starts. This is not going to be a signing that the Lions can have on the team for a long period. The next is that Jared led all tight ends in drops in 2018. If there’s one thing that Lions fans hate the most, it’s tight ends that drop passes, right?

If the Lions can get a couple young guys with great futures to pair with Cook, then I can get behind this. He’d probably be cheap, I suppose. But the way the Lions really need to go here is with players that can contribute in 2019 and beyond. Cook won’t be able to do the beyond part.