Here are the moves the Detroit Lions should consider when free agency opens at 4 p.m. ET Wednesday, March 14:
Sign Dontari Poe: The Lions need interior defensive line help and Poe – along with Star Lotulelei – are the best players on the market. This would give the Lions a young defensive tackle entering his prime in the middle of the line. Either one of those players could take some double teams, which would take attention off edge-rusher Ezekiel Ansah. Another option here is to re-sign Haloti Ngata on a short-term deal and make the interior of the line a priority during the draft. Two lower-cost names to watch who are familiar with what Detroit will run defensively are Geneo Grissom and Ricky Jean-Francois, who played in New England last year.
Make a run at Josh Sitton or Ryan Jensen: The Lions need to add an interior lineman either in free agency or through the draft. They’ve had good success identifying linemen who fit during the draft – Taylor Decker and Graham Glasgow in 2016, for example – but in Sitton and Jensen they could get a player who is already a high-level lineman who has also played in the past with at least one other Lions lineman (Sitton with T.J. Lang, Jensen with Rick Wagner). General manager Bob Quinn has had no problems investing in the offensive line when he has had to – drafting Decker, Glasgow and Joe Dahl in 2016 and signing Lang and Wagner to big deals last year.
Re-sign Tahir Whitehead: Along with Ngata, he is Detroit’s best free agent. It’s also at a position with talent but no depth. Whether the Lions give Whitehead a good deal depends on a couple of things – what they would envision as his role and how much they believe Jalen Reeves-Maybin is ready to be a full-time starter. Whitehead is a versatile linebacker who can play multiple spots, which can help if Detroit is going to be like New England and switch up its defense by the week.
Sign Isaiah Crowell: Quinn has made it clear he’s going to bring in at least one running back this offseason. There’s reason to think he’ll do more than that and make over a decent portion of the room. Crowell is a young rusher who can play on the early downs and be effective. He’s also used to playing in a committee with a pass-catcher as he shared time with Duke Johnson in Cleveland. If Crowell isn’t the target, Carlos Hyde or Dion Lewis could make sense. The other option for the Lions here is to spend less money on a veteran (Alfred Morris, Terrance West, Mike Davis, Thomas Rawls and Fitzgerald Toussaint are potential lower-cost depth options) and take a back high in the draft to be the top rusher – which is something that might happen anyway.