Despite drafting defensive ends Ezekiel Ansah and Devin Taylor last season, the Detroit Lions could still be in the market for a veteran to line up next to Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley. Whether it is a veteran to start or just to keep in the rotation, expect the Lions to make a play on a defensive end this spring.
Jared Allen, Minnesota Vikings:
Pros: Still good pass rusher, great veteran experience.
Jared Allen would be the perfect veteran to seek out and start for a couple of years while mentoring the young players. Numbers have dipped since 2011, kind of, recording 12 sacks in 2012 and 11.5 sacks last season. To clarify, his numbers have dipped because he had 22 sacks in 2011, so there was a high bar set for him. But by no means does that mean his production the last two seasons weren’t fantastic, especially for his climbing age. On that note, Allen will turn 32 in April, so age will be the biggest concern. Good chance there could be a mutual interest if former defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham, who is remaining on the staff, can convince him to still join.
Justin Tuck, New York Giants:
Pros: Coming off great season, another good veteran to have.
Cons: Been inconsistent over course of career, age.
Coming off a fine season, Justin Tuck appears to be one of many New York Giants to seek a fresh start. Detroit would be a welcoming place for that fresh start for Tuck. Despite recording 11 sacks last season, Tuck has had an overall inconsistent career, recording only nine sacks the two seasons prior to last year. However, regardless of his stats, Tuck is another player that will gain extra value on the market for his experience. There is a good chance Tuck could see some looks from the Lions as well.
Michael Bennett, Seattle Seahawks:
Pros: Great rotational player, had a good 2013 season.
Cons: Price is too high.
Bennett was a free agent last season, leaving his original team Tampa Bay Buccaneers to win a Super Bowl with the Seattle Seahawks. The Lions had a look at Bennett also before he ultimately signed with Seattle. No telling if the Lions remain interested, especially with Bennett raising his asking price from last year, but there may be some looks. Should also note that Bennett is better suited in a rotational player role, which would be a perfect situation in Detroit for him.
Willie Young, Detroit Lions:
Pros: Potential cheap re-sign, familiar to the team.
Cons: Not enough production.
It is very likely to see Willie Young make a return to the team next season. Although he graded well in pass rushing last season, Young only has recorded six sacks in his three full seasons on the Lions’ roster. Needless to say that he will need to get his numbers up a little more to stay with the team for a longer period. However, in the short-term, Young may be a good player to re-sign and keep in the rotation.
The Lions will look for more of a player to plug into the rotation or potentially start for the time being rather than a full upgrade. The final installment of Detroit Lions Free Agent Focus will be posted later this week and will cover both offensive linemen and tight ends.