As the Detroit Lions set their initial 53-man roster, scanning the waiver and free-agent wires is going to happen. And with the Lions having so much focus at the back end of the roster on special teams, there could be some movement to add players at positions of need.
And nowhere do the Lions have more questions than on the defensive line, specifically at defensive end. With Ezekiel Ansah just coming off the physically unable to perform list and undrafted rookies occupying the Nos. 4 and 5 defensive-end slots, this is a place Detroit could make a waiver claim or another move.
After scanning the cuts made Friday and Saturday -- along with seeing the existing free agent wire -- here are some possibilities for the Lions on the defensive line and some other places. Of course, it’s possible the Lions do nothing and stand pat with their roster for now. But these could be places Detroit looks.
The reunion guys (ends Wallace Gilberry, Devin Taylor and George Johnson; tackle Caraun Reid): The Lions could have interest in Reid, who was somewhat of a surprise cut last year and could be a depth addition. The three ends all have their own questions: Johnson didn’t have a sack after leaving Detroit; Taylor struggled with a larger role in 2016; Gilberry was let go by the Lions last season. Of the four, Taylor might be the most likely, because when he was asked to take on a situational role -- which is what would happen this season -- he performed well. But remember, reunions don’t always go smoothly. A reason Detroit might want to investigate this is what many defensive linemen have told me over the years: Adjusting to how the Lions play on the line takes time. At the start of the season and with the team desperately needing a pass rush, signing a player who already knows what’s going on could help.
DT Ahtyba Rubin (released by Seattle): Adding the nine-year veteran would give the Lions a deep -- and potent -- group of tackles. He’s played in a 4-3 defense before and has been a player who seemed to make sense in the Lions' scheme in the past. The question is whether Rubin would want to take what would clearly be a rotational role when he could probably get a better gig somewhere else.
Linebackers Bob Quinn has familiarity with: Detroit seems to like its linebackers, but Jonathan Freeny (cut by New England) and Akeem Ayers (cut by Indianapolis) could be intriguing depth pieces Lions general manager Quinn knows from their mutual time in New England. While this might seem like an easy connection to make, familiarity helps at this time of year.
Some offensive-line help: Left guard has been the most questionable spot on the Lions' line this preseason, and Alex Boone could offer some help. The Lions would likely want to ride with Graham Glasgow, but if they view Boone -- cut by the Vikings -- as an immediate upgrade who could also assist Greg Robinson, they might look into using some of the salary-cap money freed up by the Laken Tomlinson and Johnson Bademosi trades to at least inquire about him. Same could go for tackle Eric Winston, released by Cincinnati. He won’t be a starter, but considering Corey Robinson is coming off the PUP list, the Lions might want to have a veteran presence backing up Rick Wagner and Greg Robinson.
The defensive-end free agents: Lions coach Jim Caldwell knows Dwight Freeney well. Very well. Has raved about him in the past. He’s no longer Dwight Freeney, game-wrecker, but if the Lions are looking for a situational third or fourth rusher, it might be worth bringing the 37-year-old in. Plus, as with Anquan Boldin last season, undrafted rookies Alex Barrett and Jeremiah Valoaga could learn from him. Jared Odrick might be worth looking into as well. Another name to watch could be Paul Kruger. Both Caldwell and defensive coordinator Teryl Austin know him from their Baltimore days, when Kruger was a key cog in the Ravens’ defense. Like Freeney, he’s more of a situational player now, but the 31-year-old can bring a veteran presence and some stability to a defensive-end rotation.