The Detroit Lions have to make a splash in free agency, there are to many holes in the team to fill to ignore and late round draft picks aren’t going to cut it. The question is, do they go for one big time free agent and hope that he mixes with the current stars to cover up other weaknesses, or do go with a number of lesser known commodities to upgrade throughout the team?
It is my belief that the team would be better served finding minor upgrades throughout, the Lions have a ton of money invested in just a few stars now and the overall philosophy to me has to be that they have to be your difference makers. I don’t think the team can afford to throw down a huge chunk of salary cap to just one player and succeed in improving their chances at becoming a playoff team.
That being said, if they were to make a splash, I believe it would need to be in the secondary at this point, and there is a number of interesting options, though many are likely to end up with their current teams. Charles Tillman is a playmaker, he’s one of the few guys who gives Calvin Johnson fits and disrupts his game. Tillman is also 33 years old and that is an age where a cornerback tends to dramatically fall off speed and production wise. He’s going to stay in Chicago most likely, so the Lions should hope he does fade and that not making a run at him ends up being the right move.
Sam Shields is an inconsistent player, or at least has been to this point, but his talent level and age (26)certainly make him intriguing. The knock on him has always been focus and a big contract could make that an even larger issue. Taking him away from the Packers though not only adds to the talent the Lions have, but also weakens a division foe, so that should be considered. Where I think there will be a falloff in Tillman, there is hope that Shields gets better and removing him as an opponent from two games a year is like getting a two for one deal.
Offensive co-coordinator Joe Lombardi will better know what the Lions should do in regards to Malcolm Jenkins than anyone. If Lombardi says go for it, then the team would be wise to follow his lead there. Jenkins is young, talented, a leader and fills a need, but he’s shown nothing more than the ability to be solid and the Lions need playmakers.
Aquib Talib and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie are not going anywhere, so you can just cross them off their list. They are highly valued players on top flight teams that will lock them into deals. As I much as I hate to say it, the same goes for Vontae Davis. Davis just always seems to be one of those players involved in everything and he is definitely a key to the Colts success. Brent Grimes is 31 years old, and will really a great player; it would be silly to think that the Dolphins will let him go. It is a possibility, mostly because I can not think of a single reason that a player would want to stay in Miami right now. That team just seems to be a mess from top to bottom, but, apparently all signs point to Grimes staying.
Lastly, there is safety Jarius Byrd. Byrd is a great player and if you don’t know who he is, it is probably because he plays for Buffalo. I would doubt that Byrd will stay with the Bills, and so, he is going to command top dollar. He is the closest thing out there to Earl Thomas without getting Earl Thomas, but he is going to cost a ton. I don’t think the Lions can afford him and I don’t know if a player that has been languishing in obscurity would bother to move to a team like the Lions that does not receive the national attention and playoff spotlight that his other options will give him a shot at. The Lions would have to convince him Detroit is on the upside and heading into contention and that he would be the last piece. I don’t see that happening with the Colts looking for a similar player and already having established themselves as one of the up and coming teams, but, if they wanted to make a splash with just one player, Byrd is the guy to go for.