While the NFL combine is coming up in a little under a month, the next big marker for the Detroit Lions and other clubs will be free agency.
And it’s there that the Lions have had success in recent years, bringing in Marvin Jones, Golden Tate, Glover Quin, James Ihedigbo and Reggie Bush in the past five seasons. All those players had significant roles with Detroit – and made a difference on two playoff teams.
So what might Detroit do this year? That’s today’s Lions Mailbag question. To ask a question for a future Mailbag, use the hashtag #LionsMailbag on Twitter, email me at email@example.com or ask away here on Facebook.
Now to today’s question.
It’s still a couple of weeks too early to really get a gauge on how big a player Detroit will be in free agency, but I wouldn’t expect them to go too crazy.
What you saw last year from the Lions and GM Bob Quinn – one big splash signing in Marvin Jones and a bunch of mid-level upgrades elsewhere – might be the blueprint for what he’ll want to do. Now the Lions have a bit more cap room to play with this year, so maybe he would go after two lucrative free agents. But overall, I’d expect Quinn to work the corners a bit to find players with versatility and multiple roles, such as Tavon Wilson, Rafael Bush and Andre Roberts last year.
But figure the Lions will be active in it.
“I’m not opposed to free agency. I think you have to pick and choose your spots,” Quinn said last month. “Last year we did a few things in free agency. Some of those guys worked out; some of the guys didn’t. That’s kind of how free agency goes, you’re never going to bat 1,000 in free agency.
“Ideally, I think I said this year ago, that I believe in building the team through the draft and then you supplement through free agency. We’ve looked at a lot of the free agents, I’ve looked at a number of them myself. If we feel there’s a good fit there we’ll go ahead and do that.”
The defense is a place where the Lions could focus on during free agency and the draft. While it’s a little early to predict who might be available as legitimate fits for the Lions, players such as defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins (New York Giants), cornerbacks Logan Ryan (New England) or A.J. Bouye (Houston) or linebacker Dont’a Hightower (New England) could be options for high-level contracts from Detroit.
Don’t be surprised if the Lions work the middle ranges of free agency more, though, both to bolster the special teams and to find players who might be a little below value, but solid contributors, such as the players mentioned above. That seems to be a prudent strategy and one Quinn’s ex-boss in New England, Bill Belichick, has used in the past.
And to get a really good idea of how the Lions are going to approach free agency, the signing of their own free agents could offer a strong clue in the next few weeks.