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Detroit Lions have shown ‘greatest interest’ in free agent nose-tackle Domata Peko

Is this Damon Harrison insurance or just potential depth?

NFL: Denver Broncos at Kansas City Chiefs Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

After waiving tight end Michael Roberts, the Detroit Lions’ roster stands at 89 players—one short of the 90-man limit right now. With a month of practice-less offseason ahead of them, the Lions will likely use the next few weeks to scour the talent pool available before they add another player to contend at training camp next month.

The search apparently has already begun, as the Lions have shown serious interest in former Broncos nose tackle Domata Peko. Peko told NFL.com that Detroit hosted him for a visit last week, and that Detroit has shown more interest in him than any other NFL team this offseason.

This is a pretty interesting development, because it’s extremely easy to see where Peko fits into the equation on the Lions defense. The 34-year old veteran nose tackle would likely serve one of two purposes: Damon Harrison Sr. insurance or simply rotational depth behind Harrison. Just listen to Von Miller talk about Peko in 2017 and substitute “Snacks” and Davis in appropriate spots:

“I don’t think he gets enough credit for what he does in the run defense. We got the No. 1 run defense and that’s mainly because of how beastly Peko is,” all-pro outside linebacker Von Miller said. “If you watch the coaches’ film, he’s got two guys on him and he just throws them off. That allows (Derek) Wolfe to be the type of player we all know he can be. So, first and foremost, he’s a beast on the football field and a huge catalyst on our success when it comes to run defense and total defense.”

Harrison sat out of all offseason workouts, reportedly in the hopes to get a new contract with the Lions. There are no indications from the Lions nor Harrison that they’ve come closer to an agreement. So Peko, who has started at least 10 games in 12 straight seasons, could potentially come in and replace Harrison if his holdout stretches into the regular season. It could also help Detroit with negotiations, hoping to convince Harrison that he’s not as essential as he thinks.

Of course, that could all be an over-analysis of the situation. The Lions got a good look at their nose tackle depth with Harrison sitting out of OTAs and minicamp, and perhaps they simply didn’t like what they saw. Seventh-round rookie PJ Johnson and John Atkins saw plenty of work at the nose tackle position, and it’s certainly possible Detroit is no longer comfortable with those two backing up “Snacks.” Adding Peko would boost Detroit’s depth, as he is the proven run-stopper Detroit needs when Harrison wants a breather.

Regardless of Detroit’s intentions, terms have not been agreed upon yet, and there is no guarantee Peko joins the Lions. For now, it’s a situation to simply keep an eye on.