Last week, we looked at five free agents the Lions should be looking at on the offensive side of the ball. Today it’s time to move onto the defensive side of the ball. Let’s waste no time at all and jump right in.
S Marcus Williams
This one sort of seems like a foregone conclusion. Don’t count your chickens, but the Detroit Lions should definitely be in the lead for getting Williams in March. The New Orleans Saints safety should also be one of the highest priorities for a Lions team that desperately needs help at the safety position.
With a PFF grade of 80.1, Williams ranked seventh among all NFL safeties in 2021. He worked with both Dan Campbell and Aaron Glenn in New Orleans. That connection could really be the key to bringing Williams to Detroit. The bad news is that Williams is going to be sought after in March, and his price tag could be quite large. Being the highest-paid safety in football is absolutely on the table for the 25-year-old defender. The Lions should fork it over for a chance to have both Williams and Tracy Walker in their secondary. Of course, the Lions are going to have to pay Walker a hefty sum, too.
LB De’Vondre Campbell
The Green Bay Packers are in cap hell right now and instead trying to put in motion plans to resolve that, they’re apparently about to double down in an effort to keep Aaron Rodgers in town. This is going to mean some players are going to have to fall by the wayside. Campbell is probably going to be in that camp.
Campbell had a very good 2021. He graded out at 85.8 on PFF and was one of the better linebackers in the league. He is going to be expensive and it’s going to be hard to get him in Detroit, but the Lions need help at linebacker and paying out for Campbell should be something they consider doing.
EDGE Charles Harris
Hey, it’s a guy we all know and love. The Lions are going to be in the market for players on the edge this offseason. I expect them to really scratch this itch in the draft, but Harris is a should garner some focus in free agency, too. In fact, after Tracy Walker, Charles Harris should be the highest priority to re-sign.
The former 22nd overall pick really found himself in Detroit after struggling to live up to his draft status early in his career. Harris really turned it up for the Lions during their hot finish to the season and he ended with 7.5 sacks on the season. That’s not elite by any means, but the Lions should really see where things go with this. It’s a great fit for Harris, too, since he found a coaching staff that put him in a place to finally succeed.
For Detroit, the options for defensive end in free agency are scarce, unless they want to load up on guys who are 30 years old or older. Harris is an easier solution than taking that risk.
S P.J. Williams
Let’s dip back into the Saints pool, shall we? There’s a chance the Lions don’t convince Williams to come to Detroit. Even worse, there’s a chance they don’t get Tracy Walker to stay. If both of those situations happen, the Lions are going to be in need of help at safety. Saints safety P.J. Williams could help in that nightmare of a situation.
Williams had a decent 2021. He graded out at 70.0 on PFF. With the obvious connections to Campbell and Glenn, the Lions could have a leg up on the competition. Again, this is a real thinking three steps ahead type situation. Hopefully the Lions succeed in the first scenario we laid out.
CB Darious Williams
Sticking with the secondary, the Lions should be looking for players that can help outside of the safety position. The cupboard seems stocked at corner, but it’s not. Jeff Okudah remains a big question mark, Amani Oruwariye will be entering the final year of his contract, and Ifeatu Melifonwu is still growing as a rookie. The Lions could always get better at corner.
Darious Williams is a guy they should look at. In keeping with the theme of connections, there’s some here for the Lions. Brad Holmes and Ray Agnew were on staff with the Rams when they claimed the then undrafted rookie off the waiver wire after the Ravens let him go. Lions secondary coach Aubrey Pleasant was also with the Rams during Williams’ time there. They could help bring Williams in and know exactly how to use him.
Williams took a step back in 2021 after a pretty good two-year stretch, so the Lions should also be able to get him at a discount.