Detroit Lions: 6 top free agents who are still available

SAN DIEGO, CA - OCTOBER 15: Antonio Gates
SAN DIEGO, CA - OCTOBER 15: Antonio Gates /

Here’s a list of six top free agents the Detroit Lions could sign after a relativity light draft class and with some remaining needs on their roster.

The Detroit Lions only came away with six rookies following the 2018 NFL Draft. Detroit could look to free agency in order to find themselves a veteran or two to fill a void on their roster.

If they do, here are six of the top free agents left on the market. But first, both Lions general manager Bob Quinn and new head coach Matt Patricia have strong ties with the New England Patroits organization. So strong, in fact, they were trade partners twice in the recent draft.

With that Pats connection in mind, here are some free agents that played in New England and are currently on the open market. Would that pre-established relationship make the Motor City appealing to this group of veterans? It certainly worked for new running back LeGarrette Blount.

Free Agents from New England:

Martellus Bennett,TE
Alan Branch DT
Shea McClellin, OLB
Ricky Jean-Francois, DT

That was the appetizer. Now, for the main course.

Johnathan Hankins, Defensive Tackle

This is a player that has been linked to the Lions for quite some time. And following the draft, in which the only front seven player selected was Alabama’s De’Shawn Hand, I believe Detroit has a need for an interior presence like Hankins more than ever. Obviously, price will be the sticking point. But with options dwindling, perhaps these veterans are ready to deal.

Antonio Gates, Tight End

The Lions are in desperate need of a receiving tight end. And the Los Angeles Chargers just parted ways with one of the greatest in NFL history. Although Antonio Gates will be 38-years of age soon, he should have enough in the tank to be a reliable receiver. At the very least, the 6-foot-4, 255 pound former basketball player can continue to rebound end zone targets in Detroit.

NaVorro Bowman, Linebacker

Switching to a 3-4 defensive front requires more linebackers. And the Lions stocked up earlier this offseason. But you can never have enough. And due to injuries and inconsistent play, you may need an insurance policy. Bowman is the best linebacker on the market. He’s only 29-years old and posted a whopping 127 total tackles last season.

Dez Bryant, Wide Receiver

Clearly, the Lions are set at the wide receiver position. But with Golden Tate in his final contract year and the inconsistent play from Kenny Golladay during his rookie season, signing a hungry Dez Bryant should be, at least, considered. Jolted from the Dallas Cowboys, Bryant should be willing to sign a team-friendly, one-year deal. And without a solid tight end receiving threat, Dez could be a much-needed additional red zone target for quarterback Matthew Stafford.

DeMarco Murray, Running Back

The Lions added running backs Blount and rookie Kerryon Johnson to the roster. Along with Theo Riddick and the rest of the usual suspects in the Lions’ backfield, signing DeMarco Murray doesn’t make much sense. But as a reserve, a tough-nosed Murray could find a role. If the Lions are truly committed to a more-smash mouth running style, backs like Ameer Abdullah no longer have a place on this roster.

Next: Detroit Lions: 15 best first-round draft picks of all-time

Kenny Vaccaro, Safety

Going into the draft, the Detroit Lions did not appear to have a need in their defensive secondary. But that didn’t stop them from drafted safety Tracy Walker in the third round anyway. If the Lions aren’t done buying, Vaccaro is a free agent that is undervalued and could find place on a roster seemingly still in flux in Detroit.