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4 free agents, waiver claims the Detroit Lions should pursue

Despite the 53-man roster being set, the Detroit Lions should take a look at these players to add as well.

NFL: Preseason-Carolina Panthers at New York Giants Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

On Tuesday, it was time for the Detroit Lions and every other team to trim down their roster to 53 players. With that, 1,184 players are now newly without a job. Some of these players will have to go through waivers and some are available to sign right away.

While the Lions roster has taken huge strides over the past few years, general manager Brad Holmes will never overlook an opportunity to see what is available to him and upgrade the roster. Teams have their own reasons to cut players, whether it’s a loaded position group with not enough room for all the talent, or a player simply not fitting their current scheme.

The Lions have spots that need some help and there is now a pool of talent available to them. Not every player that is released is an attractive option, but I was able to find you four players I believe Holmes should at least put in a bid in the waiver, or give a call to them and see if they want to sign with Detroit.

Former Eagles OG/C Josh Andrews

Status: Released (free agent)

The first offensive lineman that comes to mind here is guard Josh Andrews. Andrews played for the Philadelphia Eagles in the preseason and has been in the league since 2014. He was an undrafted free agent who started with the Eagles before bouncing around the league, playing for the Minnesota Vikings, Indianapolis Colts, New York Jets, Atlanta Falcons, and the New Orleans Saints last season. With the Saints, Andrews started in five games last season, playing both guard spots and at center.

With Andrews, it’s a positive that he’s able to slide to either guard position or at center if need be. While the Lions have that already in Graham Glasgow, it doesn’t hurt to have another backup who can do it as well, and overall interior depth is a modest need with only Colby Sorsdal along with Glasgow among the reserves. Having a third option wouldn’t be bad for the team.

This preseason, Andrews finished with a 65.2 overall grade according to PFF, with a 79.4 in pass blocking and 58 in run blocking. He primarily played center, which is the position that the Lions technically don’t have a backup in right now. He would be worth signing for more depth and since the team wasn’t impressed with its backups before, it would be good to bring in another body to see if he can be an upgrade.

Former Browns OG Michael Dunn

Status: Released (free agent)

Can you tell I think the Lions should get some more depth along the offensive line? The other offensive lineman on this list is guard Michael Dunn, who appeared in 28 games with four starts over the past three seasons. He started as an undrafted rookie for the Los Angeles Rams (overlapping with Holmes’ tenure there) before going over to the Jacksonville Jaguars. He then would play for the Birmingham Iron in the AAF, which helped him get a job with the Miami Dolphins practice squad in 2019. In 2020, he was in the XFL with the Seattle Dragons before landing with the Cleveland Browns that same year. After playing in 28 games for the Browns and starting four over the last three years, his release was considered a surprise among Cleveland fans.

While Dunn can play offensive tackle, he does better as a guard and if the Lions want to move Glasgow over as the primary backup for Frank Ragnow at center in case of injury, Dunn could be the primary backup for either guard spot. This preseason, Dunn has a 77.8 overall grade according to PFF, with a 66.9 in pass blocking and 83.3 in run blocking. He has mostly played at right guard with some experience at left guard as well.

Dunn would also be a big help and if the team really needed help at tackle. Like Andrews and Glasgow, Dunn could be useful in multiple positions and we know the Lions value versatility. With how often the team has dealt with injuries along the offensive line, it is always smart to have depth behind them, and even better if you have flexible depth that can be put in multiple spots in a pinch.

Former Browns WR Austin Watkins Jr.

Status: Waived (on waivers)

Sticking to the offense here, I believe the Lions could still use help at wide receiver. With the team keeping just five on the 53-man roster, a sixth could be helpful for depth purposes. Watkins Jr. is a player I think could stick around even after Jameson Williams is back from his suspension. Undrafted in 2021, Watkins has bounced around the NFL, CFL, and USFL before playing for the Browns this preseason. Watkins was Cleveland’s best receiver as he had 16 catches for 257 yards and two touchdowns in all four games they played. His best game came against the Eagles as he finished with seven catches for 139 yards and a touchdown.

Watkins is a big-body receiver at 6-foot-3, something Detroit could use more of. He also ran a 4.53 at his pro day, so he has some speed to his length as well. A long, fast, productive receiver has been elusive to Detroit for some time, and Watkins checks all three of those boxes right now.

Detroit just had a tough battle for the last wide receiver spot on the team with rookie seventh-round pick Antoine Green coming out on top. Watkins would be an upgrade over some of the youngsters who just missed the cut (Chase Cota, Dylan Drummond), and could even provide some meaningful offensive production in a pinch.

Former Panthers K Matthew Wright

Status: Waived (on waivers)

Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but the Lions have an issue at kicker. Ever since Detroit opted not to re-sign Matt Prater in 2021, the Lions haven’t been able to find a suitable long-term fit as his replacement. Despite trading for kicker Riley Patterson earlier this off-season, Patterson hasn’t shown enough to make anyone feel comfortable with him to be the kicker this season. This preseason, Patterson is three for four on both field goals and extra points, with both misses being in the preseason finale against the Carolina Panthers. It was even reported on Tuesday that the Lions are looking for possible trades for a kicker, so it’s clear the team is in the market to upgrade.

In the preseason, Wright has been perfect—albeit on limited opportunities. He went 2-for-2 on extra points, and 2-for-2 in field goals, including a make from 54 yards. Last season, Wright played in six games, two for the Kansas City Chiefs and four for the Pittsburgh Steelers, going 15-for-18 with his longest make coming from 59 yards out, and he was a perfect 15-for-15 on extra point attempts as well.

With an extra week before the season begins, the Lions should take a flier on Wright and have him go head-to-head against Patterson to give him a stricter competitor to go up against. Yes, Wright was with the team in 2021 and didn’t even make it to the end of training camp, but he’s since shown a level of consistency and power that they lack with Patterson right now.

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