Bob Quinn has always wanted to upgrade the middle class of his roster. Although he has made one big signing so far, the majority of his work has been to once again add to the depth and flexibility of the defense, and he did that with an early free-agency move, agreeing to terms with defensive lineman Cornelius Washington.
Washington comes from a division rival, Chicago, and should be entering the prime of his career.
Terms: Two years, $6 million with a maximum of $8 million (per Adam Caplan)
Grade: B-. He isn’t a big name, but Washington will fill a need for Detroit as a defensive lineman with enough size to play on the interior with some flexibility to play on the outside as well. He’s a player the Lions are familiar with too, as they’ve seen him the past four years with the Bears.
What it means: The Lions needed bodies on the defensive line, with Devin Taylor, Armonty Bryant and others being free agents. In Washington, they get a player who can be a good rotational defensive lineman with some upside for the future at age 27. His 6-foot-4, 292-pound frame is something that is desirable in a Detroit defense that likes linemen with some flexibility. This probably means that Taylor -- as expected -- is moving on from Detroit, and it might signal a complete reboot of a defensive line that struggled to rush the passer last season. Unfortunately for Detroit, Washington is not a pass-rusher, but he has the size to be an edge setter, and that’s something Detroit doesn’t have right now.
What’s the risk: Injuries should be a concern, as is production. Washington missed almost all of the 2015 season with a quadriceps injury and had the best season of his career coming back in 2016. He has only 27 career tackles and two starts, so either the Lions are hoping they can unlock something Chicago couldn’t or Washington is purely a rotational end. The Lions have seen defensive line coach Kris Kocurek do this with players before, from George Johnson to Kerry Hyder, so the potential and size are there. Washington's career-best season came in 2016, when he played in a career-high 15 games, starting two with 20 tackles and two sacks.