The Detroit Lions took a step in rebuilding the back of their secondary by signing Glover Quin in free agency last offseason but they didn’t draft a safety in what was considered a deep class last April. As a result, the Lions are still looking for help at the position, which may come through this free agency period. According to NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport, T.J. Ward is drawing some looks from the Lions already.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) March 9, 2014
Jairus Byrd is the bigger name but Ward actually had a better 2013 season, finishing as the league’s third-best safety as graded by Pro Football Focus – only Devin McCourty and Will Hill received better overall ratings. Ward’s solid season wasn’t a fluke, either. He finished 6th in PFF’s safety rankings for the 2012 season and 13th in 2011. Even as a rookie in 2010, Ward finished with an overall positive rating from PFF.
While Byrd is expected to land the bigger contract, Ward may still be an expensive option. It is worth noting that while Rapoport doesn’t give an indication of a dollar amount, he does mention the Lions’ desire to create more cap space with a Suh deal. The Lions were able to sign Glover Quin despite limited cap space a year ago, but Ward’s price tag may be a bit bigger. The Lions were able to give themselves more wiggle room a year ago by crafting free agent contracts with low year one cap hits, a strategy they will likely have to employ to have as big an impact this year as they did a year ago.