Due to the season-ending injury suffered by Kerry Hyder Jr., will the Detroit Lions look to free agency to sign a pass rushing defensive end?
In their preseason opener, the Detroit Lions‘ defense played well, limiting the Indianapolis Colts to just 10 points in the exhibition. Unfortunately, that small victory came at a gigantic cost.
Early in the preseason matchup, the Lions’ leading sacker from last season, defensive end Kerry Hyder Jr., suffered a season-ending Achilles injury. Hyder was a pleasant surprise in 2016, recording 8.0 sacks and helping to pick up the slack dropped by a struggling Ziggy Ansah, who was dealing with an ankle injury all year.
Now dreams of having both Hyder and a healthy Ansah bookending Detroit’s defensive line this season have vanished. And with Ansah still on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list due to his ankle, the roar of the Lions’ pass rush is a lot quieter than it was just a week ago.
The Lions will now turn to free agent signee and former Chicago Bears’ defensive lineman Cornelius Washington and young defenders like Anthony Zettel, Jeremiah Valoaga, Pat O’Connor and Alex Barrett to fill the void left by Hyder.
But will the Lions also opt to sign a free agent pass rusher? The biggest name currently available is Mario Williams. The former number one overall selection in the 2006 NFL Draft was released by the Miami Dolphins in February after registering a disappointing 13 total tackles and 1.5 sacks in 13 games last season. The move also saved Miami $8.5 million against their salary cap.
But signing a 32-year old veteran on his last leg isn’t likely what this progressive front office under general manager Bob Quinn wants to do. Unfortunately, the Lions might not have many options when it comes to finding quality pass rushers this late into the year.
"“…some veterans will become available at cuts, but it’s not fair to count on mining gold at this stage of the year,” answered Justin Rogers of The Detroit News to a mailbag question recently. “Pass rush is at a premium around the league, so talent and potential aren’t likely to be cast aside. The best bet would be finding an experienced vet who might have flaws in his game, but has good get-off speed that Kris Kocurek can work with.”"
Other current free agent pass rushers include names like Jared Odrick, Tyson Jackson, Glenn Dorsey, Vance Walker, Dwight Freeney, Robert Mathis and the recently retired DeMarcus Ware. But none of them seem like the direction Detroit really wants to go. Instead, the Lions will probably wait and see what they have in their younger, developmental players and hope one of them can step up like Kerry Hyder did for the team last season.