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Just Say No: 4 defensive lineman the Lions should avoid in free agency

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Part one of our Just Say No series focuses on the defensive line

NFL: Jacksonville Jaguars at Atlanta Falcons Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

I don’t know if anyone noticed this season, but the Lions defense was really bad. Yeah, I know, I was shocked to when I looked at the numbers. Usually three-win teams specialize in success on that side of the ball.

The Lions defense was bad just about everywhere, but it was the defensive line that led the team in horrible play. Not everyone was bad. Big-money free agent addition Trey Flowers put on a nice year and Romeo Okwara was okay at times, too. Everyone else, however, had a pretty rough year.

Now the Lions find themselves in a bit of a pickle. Damon Harrison Sr., who in 2018 was Pro Football Focus’ highest ranked interior lineman, had a really bad year and is now considering retirement. A’Shawn Robinson will likely hit free agency next month. Mike Daniels will probably follow him there.

The Lions are going to have to fill these roles. They may even be desperate, but they should still do all they can to avoid the four guys I’m about to name.

Ndamukong Suh

Let’s start it off with a bang. Anyone remember this guy? Of course you do. Why it’s the Lions’ 2010 first-round draft choice. A guy that skipped town back in 2015 to “win a championship” in a state with no income tax.

I heavily touted the return of Suh to Detroit on Twitter multiple times as recent as last year. Heck, I still think it might happen some day, and I still don’t know why I do that. But these days I at a least know that the Lions should take a pass on Suh. Here’s why.

It’s all about age and money. Suh is 33 years old and will be 34 by the time next season comes to a close. He still plays pretty well, though. In 2019, Pro Football Focus graded him out at 69.7.

Because of this, Suh is going to come with a price tag. Not the most heftiest of price tags, but a tag big enough to make you wonder if the Lions should have spent that money elsewhere.

Also with that age comes the eventual crash. At some point Suh loses his Suhper powers (I know, I’m an idiot) and he becomes human. Wouldn’t it work out just perfectly if that happened in Detroit? That’s why I say to avoid it.

Of course, the biggest case that can be made is the Lions front office and coaching staff are up against a make-or-break season, why not get all the fire power you can get? If that’s the case, Suh is my one exception in this group—the only one I wouldn’t feel too upset about if Detroit signed.

Vic Beasley

There was a time not long ago when the former eight overall pick was a Pro Bowler. Beasley recorded a whopping 15.5 sacks in the 2016 season and looked like a guy destined for greatness. If the Lions could get that guy, I’d be ecstatic. But I’m not sure that guy exists anymore.

Beasley went downhill and it went fast. The following season Beasley hurt his hamstring and only wound up starting eight of the 14 games he played in. The following season he only started nine of the 16 games he played in. Then 2019 was the icing on the cake. Beasley got himself a 58.9 rating by PFF.

2019 was a bit of an uptick for Beasley, but it was all very deceiving. Beasley struggled through most of the season and looked decent at the end of the year. That’s why his stat line—42 tackles, 8.0 sacks—looks decent.

But don’t get confused. The Falcons were looking to trade Beasley back in October and the belief then was that no matter what, the Falcons were not going to bring him back. If another bad football team doesn’t want him, you shouldn’t either.

Michael Bennett

Some might look at Bennett and think a few things. Maybe there’s still some of that “Seahawks Bennett” left in him. He was a Pro Bowler with them just two seasons ago. The other thing is he played for the Patriots. So ipso facto, he’ll fit right into Matt Patricia’s scheme.

The problem is he’s not Seahawks Bennett anymore and he only played six games for the Patriots before they shipped him to the Dallas Cowboys, where he proceeded to start zero games. He did get four sacks while he was there, though.

Attach all that to the fact that Bennett is about to be 35 and you’ll see right away why it’s not a good idea.

A’Shawn Robinson

Here it is. The first “bombshell” of this season of Just Say No. It’s that one dude dying on The Wire (never seen it, but everyone talks about how shocking that one dude’s death is.) Or the birth of Dill Pickles. It’s the twist in the show you didn’t see coming.

I liked Robinson for a long time. There are certainly some things he can bring to the Lions’ game plan. It’s great when he does that swat thing, and we all call him A’Swat. Man, those were good times.

But at some point you have to wonder if the combination of five sacks and 14 QB hits in four years on top of a 56.0 grade from PFF are worth spending the money on.

I’m telling you it’s not. The Lions are in a position where they need fire power and they need guys that can get to the quarterback. Robinson is not that guy. If Robinson was at least a guy that could stop the run, you could make an argument that he should stay. But he’s not that guy either. So what do you do?

You do what sucks to do. You admit that Bob Quinn missed on Robinson, and you let him walk. You live to fight another day with a fistful of dollars that could have gone to a player that’s not cutting the mustard.