What Are The Lions’ Team Needs Post-Free Agency?
By Al Stahl
We’re jumping right into it. Defensive end is far and away the team’s biggest need right now. Just two ends are currently on the roster. Ziggy Ansah and Devin Taylor. There are varying opinions on Devin Taylor’s ability, but to me, he is not an NFL starter. He’s fine as a rotational guy, but the Lions need a starting defensive end and another rotational guy. Jason Jones and Darryl Tapp still remain unsigned, so all is not lost. Goodness gracious that’s a depressing sentence. Jones and Tapp are fine, but they aren’t upgrades. Perhaps the team will wait until the draft dust settles and choose to bring back one or both of the pair.
Defensive tackle is a bit crowded at the moment, but all the new signees are on one or two-year deals. The Lions may find themselves in this same boat for a third consecutive offseason next year, but at least for the 2016 season, the position is serviceable. If the Lions draft a tackle, that essentially sends Gabe Wright packing. Caraun Reid will have to earn his roster spot this year.
DeAndre Levy should be back and 100% healthy when offseason workouts begin. Along with Levy, Whitehead was re-signed and Josh Bynes or Kyle Van Noy will step into the strong side linebacker spot. Also, surprisingly, Stephen Tulloch is still on the roster. He’s not expected to remain there, but no one really knows why the team hasn’t released him yet. The linebacking corps is pretty much set, but could possibly use a middle or sam linebacker as an upgrade depending on where Whitehead plays.
Cornerback is young and deep. Slay leads a group that also features Quandre Diggs, Nevin Lawson and Alex Carter. The team could leave it as is, or they could try to add a veteran on the cheap to help coach up the young guys. Crezdon Butler sort fits the veteran part, but the journeyman corner is not exactly the kind of player you want grooming your DBs. Newly signed Johnson Bademosi plays cornerback, but he’s primarily a special teams signing.
The Lions added Rafael Bush. The former Saint looks to be the expected starter opposite Glover Quin. Tavon Wilson was also brought on as depth from New England. The three, along with Don Carey, form the safety group for the 2016 Lions at the moment. There aren’t any great safety options left in free agency, so if the Lions are looking to improve the position’s depth, it’ll likely come through the draft.
What Does Detroit Need On Defense?
On defense, the Lions need a starting defensive end, a rotational defensive end and maybe a veteran corner and safety depth. A long-term solution at defensive tackle still needs to be addressed, but with some one-year deals worked out, it isn’t necessary for the Lions to address it this offseason. At linebacker, another starter-quality player would be ideal, but isn’t necessary with Bynes on the roster.