The free agency fun begins on the other side of this weekend. Until then, there’s one more weekend of fans suggesting the Detroit Lions should sign players they should stay away from. That means I get to ruin the weekend for those fans. Here are five more players that the Lions need to stay away from despite fans wanting them:
Previously: Just Say No, Part 1
Kyle Van Noy
Hey, remember this guy? Van Noy may be the guy that started the whole “every player the Lions get rid of turns into a good player when they go somewhere else” thing. Now Van Noy is a free agent again after the Patriots chose to part ways with him this week and some Lions fans are suggesting the team bring him back now that he’s good.
Van Noy wouldn’t be the worst signing in the world, but Van Noy is also very inconsistent. While he did post an elite 83.5 PFF grade in 2019 and a nice 72.8 grade in 2021, the rest of his time with the Patriots has been in the 50s and 60s area. Van Noy is also going to be 31 when the season starts. If the Lions plan to sign a linebacker around that age, they need to go with Bobby Wagner instead.
Ironically enough, Van Noy wasn’t a good fit for the Lions when they drafted him, and he isn’t now. Would’ve been just the linebacker Matt Patricia was looking for, though.
Leighton Vander Esch
There was a time when some Lions fans were into the idea of taking Vander Esch in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft. I was one of those people. The Cowboys wound up taking him two spots before the Lions took Frank Ragnow. During his rookie season it looked like the Cowboys had made a huge steal of a pick. Since then, Vander Esch has kind of fallen off a cliff.
Vander Esch dealt with two rough injuries in 2019 and 2020 and only played 19 games in those two seasons. In 2021, he came back at full strength and had a pretty subpar 2021. Subpar enough for the Cowboys to decline to pick up his fifth-year option and make him a free agent. The Lions could take a the risk here on a pretty young player (26), but it’s best if they don’t.
Another former Lion is making the list. I get it. I was all about Suh coming back to Detroit all the way up until last season. I even wrote an article about it before free agency last March. I think it’s only right that since this was my dream as well, I should be the one to take it out to the desert and bury it.
Suh is now 35 years old and is coming off the worst season of his career. He graded out at 49.4 on PFF last year. At this point, I wouldn’t be shocked if the Suh went unsigned and decided to retire and go be super rich with Warren Buffett somewhere. While the dream of Suh coming back was always nice, the dream is over.
Collins is this week’s player that I wouldn’t complain about if the Lions signed him. Collins was one of the league’s top safeties not too long ago when he was with the New York Giants. That’s not Collins anymore. There’s a reason why the Washington Commanders decided to let him go and it’s not just the money. Collins graded out at 54.7 in 2021 and 60.0 in 2020.
The Lions do need safety help and Detroit’s coaching staff would undoubtedly be able to help accent Collins’ strengths (run defense) while hiding his issues (pass coverage). But given that Detroit likes versatility in their split-safety defense, the Lions should rather put their focus on Tracy Walker and Marcus Williams.
I’m going to cheat here with a bonus fifth option. Gardner Minshew is not a free agent, but that hasn’t stopped Lions fans from getting in my mentions about the Lions bringing in Minshew to backup Jared Goff. I wholeheartedly say no to this.
I think the big thing with Minshew is that he’s not a good quarterback, but people ignore that because he looks and dresses like Billy Ray Cyrus circa 1992. If the plan is to have a guy who has probably been to multiple Florida Georgia Line concerts in town to stand on the sideline in cutoff jean shorts, then Brad Holmes should definitely execute that trade. The better idea might be to just not though.