The Detroit Lions reportedly addressed one of their biggest issues on Monday, agreeing to sign former Pittsburgh Steelers’ tight end Jesse James.
The Detroit Lions issues at tight end in recent years have been well-documented. After drafting North Carolina tight end Eric Ebron with the 10th overall selection in the 2014 NFL Draft, the Lions parted ways with the first rounder last offseason after four-years of inconsistent play.
Unfortunately, Detroit was unable to replace Ebron’s production last season despite signing free agents like Luke Willson and Levine Toilolo. And the fact second-year tight end Michael Roberts failed to develop and played just eight games due to a shoulder injury only compounded the problem.
After a failed attempt to trade for New England Patriots’ future Hall of Fame tight end Rob Gronkowski last year, the Lions figured to make a big splash at the position this offseason. Many speculated that move might be using their first-round selection (eighth overall) in the upcoming NFL draft to grab Iowa tight end T.J. Hockenson.
Instead, it now appears Detroit has found their starting tight end in free agency. According to NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo, the Lions have agreed to sign free agent tight end Jesse James. The 24-year old was originally a fifth-round pick out of Penn State in 2015 by the Pittsburgh Steelers.
At 6-foot-7, 261-pounds, James is a stellar run blocker, good in pass protection, and has the size to be an excellent red zone threat for Lions’ quarterback Matthew Stafford. Last season, he posted 30 receptions for a career-high 423 yards and two touchdowns while starting in seven games for the Steelers.
The expected signing of Jesse James secures one of the biggest areas of need for the Detroit Lions in 2019. But they are unlikely done addressing their tight end position as both Luke Willson and Levine Toilolo are free agents as well. Detroit could look to the draft in order to fill that need or sign another veteran tight end in free agency.