As 2017 free agency starts, grading Bob Quinn's first Lions free-agent class

The Detroit Lions can now negotiate with the free agents of other teams -- and this time, Bob Quinn won’t be going through this as a first-time general manager.

Quinn has twice indicated since the end of the season that his approach to free agency will be similar to last year's: go after a few big names, don't overspend for overspending’s sake and make moves with the future in mind.

He also understands that not all of his signings will work out.

“I’m not opposed to free agency. I think you have to pick and choose your spots,” Quinn said in January. “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 a year ago, that I believe in building the team through the draft and then you supplement through free agency.”

With that in mind, here’s a quick look back at last year’s free-agent signings and whether or not they worked out, including a grade. We will only look at players who signed between the start of the new league year and the draft. Exclusive rights free agents won’t be included.

WR Marvin Jones

When signed: March 9 (agreed to terms)

What happened: He signed a five-year, $40 million deal with $20 million guaranteed and started the year as Detroit’s No. 1 receiver. He finished his first season in Detroit with 55 catches for 930 yards and four touchdowns -- although more than half of that production came in the season's first four games. He was the best receiver in his class and what the Lions needed at the time. He should be a starter for years to come in Detroit.

Grade: B+

S Tavon Wilson

When signed: March 9 (agreed to terms)

What happened: Signed to a two-year, $2.2 million deal to compete for a starting safety spot, which he won in training camp. Wilson became a versatile defender who has special-teams ability and should be in competition for the same role next season after making 89 tackles, two interceptions and one fumble recovery last season. Considering Wilson's cost, this was Quinn’s best move.

Grade: A

CB Johnson Bademosi

When signed: March 10

What happened: Signed a two-year, $5 million deal to improve Detroit’s special teams and be a depth corner. He did boost the Lions’ special teams as a gunner and a fantastic coverage player with four special-teams tackles. As a corner, he was very inconsistent when pushed into service when Darius Slay was injured. He filled the role Quinn wanted at a reasonable rate, but can’t be counted on as an outside corner.

Grade: B

DT Stefan Charles

When signed: March 11

What happened: Signed a one-year, $1.75 million deal after not being tendered in Buffalo. Detroit’s second-highest paid defensive tackle, he didn’t play like it. He had 12 tackles as a rotational interior lineman and is a free agent again.

Grade: C

S Rafael Bush

When signed: March 12

What happened: Signed a one-year, $1.5 million deal to compete with Wilson for a starting safety spot and help on special teams. He ended up as the team’s third safety but played well -- particularly in coverage -- with 53 tackles, two interceptions and a sack. He showed he could have a larger role for another team this season as he re-enters free agency.

Grade: B

WR Jeremy Kerley

When signed: March 21

What happened: Kerley signed a one-year deal with Detroit to be the team’s slot receiver and, until the Lions signed Anquan Boldin, seemed on pace to have that role. He was traded to San Francisco where he started 13 games caught a career-high 64 passes for 667 yards and three touchdowns. The player he was traded for, Brandon Thomas, spent the season on the Lions' practice squad.

Grade: D

CB Darrin Walls

When signed: March 29

What happened: Walls was cut after training camp, which was mildly surprising considering he was a veteran.

Grade: D-

OL Geoff Schwartz

When signed: March 30

What happened: He initially looked like he could compete for a starting guard role. But the Lions drafted three offensive linemen, which put his roster spot in jeopardy and he was cut during training camp. It wasn’t a bad signing at the time, though.

Grade: C-

TE Matthew Mulligan

When signed: April 4

What happened: Mulligan was cut and then re-signed, and he became Detroit’s primary blocking tight end.

Grade: B-

RB Stevan Ridley

When signed: April 5

What happened: Ridley was cut during training camp and never had much of an impact.

Grade: F

DE Wallace Gilberry

When signed: April 5

What happened: He made the roster and played in four games for Detroit, making five tackles. Eventually released, he ended up back with Cincinnati, where he played five games with 10 tackles and 2.5 sacks.

Grade: C

P Kyle Christy

When signed: April 25

What happened: He was cut in June and was never a threat to make the roster.

Grade: N/A