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Free agent DL Arden Key signs with Jaguars, not Lions

The Lions will have to look elsewhere for pass rushing help this offseason.

Atlanta Falcons v San Francisco 49ers Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images

The Detroit Lions will not be adding free agent defensive lineman Arden Key. Although the Lions brought him in for a visit last week, Key ultimately signed with the Jacksonville Jaguars on Wednesday.

The Lions were one of many suitors for Key, who also took visits with the Ravens and Chiefs. However, given Detroit’s frugal approach to free agency, it’s likely they got priced out of the market by the Jaguars—who have not been shy about throwing around money and still had plenty of cap space to maneuver. Specific details of Key’s contract aren’t out yet, though it has been reported as a one-year deal worth “up to $7 million” according to NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo.

On Tuesday, Lions general manager Brad Holmes did note that the door was still open to bring Key—who had a career-high 6.5 sacks last year—to Detroit.

“We’ll just see where it goes. We haven’t totally closed the door on that,” Holmes said.

It will be interesting to see if the Lions continue to explore options along the defensive line. Last year, the Lions' pass rush struggled immensely, ranking in the bottom five in both sacks (30th) and pressure percentage (29th). Key was specifically adept at creating pressure up the middle, and the Lions don’t currently have a good pass-rushing threat at defensive tackle. That being said, there is certainly some hope that last year’s second-round pick, Levi Onwuzurike, takes some big strides next season.

“I would say they all can get better,” Holmes said of his 2021 draft class. “That’s the great thing about these guys, I think they’ll all tell you that they could all get better.”

Holmes also made it clear the Lions weren’t done in free agency.

“I’ll say, just with free agency in general, we’re not done,” Holmes said. “You always want to get it all done that first week, the big headlines, but there’s still some guys out there that we can add still that can help our football team.”

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