The Detroit Lions had roughly $40 million in cap space, but getting down to business and agreeing with four players on Day One is a big surprise.
Day One of the legal tampering period of NFL free agency began Monday. And the Detroit Lions, with roughly $40 million in salary cap space, weren’t messing around.
Prior to the noon start time, news broke of their first signing, a player that had been released and was available before the rest of the free agents: former New England Patriots and Miami Dolphins wide receiver Danny Amendola.
But it the Lions front office was only getting started. Not long after the noon start time, another player agreed to terms: former Patriots and Seattle Seahawks cornerback Justin Coleman. Then a couple of hours later, the next player agreed and made a big splash: former Patriots defensive end Trey Flowers.
Again, the Lions weren’t done. Another player agreed to terms shortly after Flowers: former Pittsburgh Steelers tight end Jesse James. I’m out of breath just typing all of this. Four players will now be wearing Honolulu blue in 2019. And those players were added on the first day. Does this team have any cap space left?!
We’ll see what happens moving forward, but the Lions addressed some big needs yesterday. They added a replacement for defensive end Ziggy Ansah, a new starting tight end, a starting cornerback for head coach Matt Patricia’s ‘sub’ defense and a starting slot receiver. Even if Amendola is only a stop-gap player, that’s a haul for free agency!
So which of these signings is the biggest surprise? All of them! Along with most of the Lions faithful, I expected the team to go after Flowers. (I wrote about it in January, along with the re-signing of defensive end Romeo Okwara.) But adding a cornerback, slot receiver and tight end? All of these positions were expected to be addressed as well.
If we look at the players added to those positions, it isn’t very surprising that they were targeted by this post-Patriots head coach and general manager combo. Amendola and Coleman are former Pats. James might be a slight surprise, but he’s one of the better tight ends available in free agency.
The biggest surprise is this Lions team being willing to spend the money on day one and land some top available targets for this team. It alleviates the pressure to land a top player at any of these four positions in next month’s draft.
The Detroit Lions will still take one of the best defensive ends in round one if they fall to the 8th overall pick. There is still the possibility of taking a tight end in round two or three. But it doesn’t have to happen now. They’ve given themselves flexibility in the draft that they didn’t have before yesterday.
Am I surprised at the players the Detroit Lions have agreed to sign? No. Am I surprised at the amount and the holes they’ve filled with proven quality players? You bet. Now, the Lions aren’t winning any games in March, but they sure did give themselves a better chance for this fall. Bring on Day Two.