Detroit Lions Need to Get Moving Quickly on Key Free Agency Replacements


In a move that escalated over the weekend and is only delayed by time, the Detroit Lions lost defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh to the Miami Dolphins, thus opening a gaping hole in their defensive line.

From the Lions themselves, though, mum has been the word as it relates to replacing Suh. Some reports say the team has turned their attention to Nick Fairley. Others had them in play for Stephen Paea of the Chicago Bears, while one report even had a Detroit official simply clinging to the hope that Suh would change his mind before Tuesday.

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The proper response to that? Not good enough, not good enough and not happening in that exact order. It’s obvious Suh is gone or he would have accepted Detroit’s offer in the first place, and as a result, Detroit cannot get hung up on waiting around or negotiating with average names while the market for defensive tackles takes off. They had better get their heads out of the clouds soon.

Without Suh, the top remaining names are Terrance Knighton (reportedly being chased by the Bears and Raiders), Vince Wilfork (possibly being looked ay by the Jets and Bills) and Dan Williams (suited by the Washington Redskins and New York Giants).

Gambling on players like Fairley, who’s sketchy injury and motivational history is well documented or Paea, who’s been inconsistent in the run stopping portion of his game through the early part of his career isn’t good enough. After playing poker with Suh the last two years and losing badly, there’s no way the Lions can’t hit a home run in free agency now.

They need to set aim on at least one bigger name defensive tackle. If not that, they need a combination of solid rotational defensive tackles to help fill the void while also significantly upgrading other positions like running back and cornerback. As this weekend has shown, however, sitting around and waiting just isn’t going to get the job done.

After playing poker with Suh the last two years and losing badly, there’s no way the Lions can’t hit a home run in free agency now.

If the Lions wanted to add a top cornerback, they blinked and missed out on Byron Maxwell, Brandon Flowers and Kareem Jackson. If they want to add a mauling guard like Mike Iupati, they have some serious catching up to do given suitors like Minnesota, Oakland, the Jets and Bills. The negotiation period ensures that by the time free agency actually opens, only scraps are left.

Losing Suh wasn’t initially a complete disaster because it provided the Lions with financial leeway. Under the cap nearly $18 million, Detroit is suddenly flush with cash, but they must spend it in the right way and set forth with a concrete plan to do so. Adding someone relatively significant to the defensive tackle position would be the best way to start that process considering the gaping hole Suh has left.

Suh’s departure can only become a bigger disaster if the Lions don’t act.

Now, the spotlight shines brightest on general manager Martin Mayhew, who must get moving today and unveil his plan to deal with the biggest free agency setback of his tenure in Detroit.

If he doesn’t, he will open himself up to high levels of criticism perhaps more deserving than the ones he’s already seen for losing a player who was likely hell-bent on leaving town anyway.

Next: Lions Moving Toward a 3-4 defense?

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