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Resetting Detroit Lions’ 6 biggest needs, top free agents available, best fits

A look at the Detroit Lions’ options as Day 2 of the tampering period is upon us.

San Francisco 49ers v Los Angeles Rams Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

The Detroit Lions had a pretty unassuming first day of the legal tampering period, only agreeing to terms to re-sign defensive end Romeo Okwara and linebacker Jalen Reeves-Maybin.

Still, by letting Jarrad Davis, Jamal Agnew, and Joe Dahl go, the Lions have altered their needs slightly as they enter Day 2 of free agency. The market has shifted after a busy day around the NFL, so let’s take a look at what the Lions need, what’s currently out there, and who fits what the Lions are trying to do the best.

Wide receiver

Top players available: Kenny Golladay, Will Fuller, Curtis Samuel, JuJu Smith-Schuster
Best fits: Josh Reynolds, Emmanuel Sanders, Keelan Cole

The wide receiver market was pretty quiet on Monday and some big options, like Golladay, still remain. But if the Lions weren’t willing to pay Golladay, it’s hard to see them shelling out for a guy like Curtis Samuel. Instead, Reynolds still makes a lot of sense as a value, familiar signing. Keelan Cole is an intriguing option to replace Agnew on special teams and provide much more on offense.

Safety

Top players available: Anthony Harris, Malik Hooker, Kareem Jackson
Best fits: Tre Boston, Lamarcus Joyner

Unfortunately for Detroit, they missed out on John Johnson and the safety market is pretty bare now. However, if they left a big budget at safety they planned to spend on Johnson, they could make a risky play at 24-year-old Malik Hooker. Additionally, the Broncos are not exercising the option of Kareem Jackson, leaving a solid veteran available to sign who could help Detroit’s young set of safeties.

However, the more economical route would be to grab Tre Boston or Lamarcus Joyner. The latter wouldn’t count against the compensatory pick formula, and played his best NFL football with the Rams at safety.

Linebacker

Top players available: Jayon Brown, Denzel Perryman, K.J. Wright
Best fits: Perryman, Alex Anzalone

It’s a pretty thin market at linebacker, but Detroit definitely needs at least a body here. Denzel Perryman and Alex Anzalone bring familiarity from the Chargers and Saints, respectively. It’s not an exciting crew of players around, but depth is necessary after letting Jarrad Davis walk and with Reggie Ragland also likely signing elsewhere.

Running back

Top players available: Kenyan Drake, Chris Carson, James Connor, Leonard Fournette
Best fits: Jamaal Williams, Mike Davis, Todd Gurley

The running back market was nearly untouched on Monday after Aaron Jones re-signed with the Packers. Detroit could have their pick of the litter, but with D’Andre Swift and Kerryon Johnson back in 2021, the Lions would be wise to pick out of the bargain bin. Take your pick.

Corner

Top players available: William Jackson, Shaquill Griffin, Patrick Peterson, Richard Sherman
Best fits: Troy Hill, Nickell Robey-Coleman, P.J. Williams

Cornerback also had a quiet market on Monday, which could mean there’s value to be had by teams. If the Lions wanted to splurge, the most sensible option is Troy Hill, who would immediately slip into Detroit’s vacant nickel cornerback spot after Justin Coleman was waived. He can also slide outside in a pinch. Nickell Robey-Coleman is another slot option with the same experience from the Rams defense.

Defensive tackle

Top players available: Sheldon Rankins, Ndamukong Suh
Best fits: Rankins, Morgan Fox, Abry Jones

The Lions haven’t yet released Nick Williams nor Danny Shelton, but it still seems like a move that should be coming (UPDATE: Shelton is being released). If that’s the case, the Lions could splurge and finally get a pass-rushing option like Sheldon Rankins.

If they’re bargain bin shopping, Morgan Fox is a familiar face who can play up and down the defensive line. If Detroit needs another run-stuffer in case they cut Danny Shelton, Abry Jones has a ton of experience with Lions defensive line coach Todd Wash.