In the NFL teams can officially start to sign players on Tuesday at 4 p.m. so it is time to take a look at what the Lions are planning.
The team has a long list of free agents, from Pro Football Weekly:
UFAs — DE Cliff Avril (5), OL Gosder Cherilus (5), S Louis Delmas (4), LB Justin Durant (6), CB Drayton Florence (10), DT Andre Fluellen (4), OL Dylan Gandy (7), PK Jason Hanson (21), P Nick Harris (12), RB Jerome Harrison (7), TE Will Heller (10), DT Sammie Lee Hill (4), OL Corey Hilliard (4), CB Chris Houston (6), DE Lawrence Jackson (5), CB Jacob Lacey (4), CB Patrick Lee (5), WR Stefan Logan (4), OL Don Muhlbach (9), WR Kassim Osgood (10), RB Kevin Smith (5), DT Corey Williams (9).
RFAs — OL Jason Fox (3), S Amari Spievey (3), DE Willie Young (3).
Corey Hillard has already been resigned and will most likely compete for the starting right tackle position this season, meaning that most likely Gosder Cherilus is gone. The Lions also resigned linebacker DeAndre Levy to a multi-year deal.
Detroit also signed punter Blake Clingan after a workout for specialists that included kickers and long snappers. The addition of Clingan means that Nick Harris is probably gone as well as is Don Muhlbach.
Now who else should the team bring back? I talked earlier about the Matthew Stafford contract and how the Lions need to get an extension done before free agency, but I guess the team didn’t share my urgency on the situation.
The biggest priority for the Lions should be resigning Chris Houston, not Cliff Avril. Both players are at a position of need, but Houston has performed better and warrants more money than Avril, but more on Cliff later. Houston is the best corner we have and regardless of the first pick for the Lions, if Houston gets away the secondary has nothing to build on for the future.
As for Avril I think that some team is going to look at his 20.5 sacks the past two seasons and pay him way too much money for that. Avril is a pure speed rusher who I think is often overpowered and doesn’t do much in the run in our Wide Nine system. He is also never double-teamed with Suh and Fairley on the inside and will most likely face more on which ever team he ends up playing for. I expect him to be a major bust wherever he ends up.
The other big name free agent the Lions have is Louis Delmas, the oft-injured safety. Delmas has never played a full season and really struggled staying healthy last year missing half the season. He ended up with one interception and 38 total tackles on the season. Delmas is also probably going to make more than he’s worth and the Lions need to find a cheap replacement for him, or a young guy to groom into the position.
As for the rest of the unrestricted free agents, the only one I would want back is Jason Hanson if he still wants to play. Sign a kicker that goes undrafted, leave him on the practice squad and then have him take over next season. As for the unrestricted free agents, sign them all to tenders because they will be on the cheap. If nothing comes of them next year, let them walk as a free agent. What’s the worst that could happen?