As the Detroit Lions’ 2019 season comes to a close, SideLion Report reviews the performance of an underwhelming crop of free-agent signees.
With just a single, essentially inconsequential game remaining on the Detroit Lions’ schedule, the time has come for evaluations. It’s been an utterly forgettable season for the Honolulu Blue, thanks in large part to disappointing returns on some high-profile free agents signed last offseason.
The Lions weren’t shy about loosening the purse strings during last offseason’s shopping spree, bringing in some of the most coveted players at their respective positions. Still, they haven’t had the type of impact that many foresaw when they put pen to paper.
While any of these players are fully capable of padding their statistics and improving their standing in 2019’s final outing against the Green Bay Packers, the majority of their story for this year has already been written.
Here is our review of the Lions’ six most important free agent signees’ performance, starting with the biggest name:
Position: Defensive End
Contract terms: Signed through 2023, $90 million ($56 million guaranteed)
2019 statistics through 15 games: 7.0 sacks, 2 forced fumbles, 50 tackles
Analysis: One of the biggest free-agent signings in franchise history, Flowers was reunited with head coach Matt Patricia as well as Lions general manager Bob Quinn in Detroit. During his first four years in the NFL, both helped help develop him with the New England Patriots as defensive coordinator and director of pro scouting, respectively. As the best edge defender on the market, landing Flowers was seen as a major coup for the Lions, despite the hefty price tag.
Recovering from an offseason shoulder procedure that kept him sidelined for most of training camp, Flowers got off to a slow start for the Lions, recording just one sack through his first six games. Though he had never recorded more than 7.5 sacks during his time with the Patriots, Flowers’ low production early on was disappointing and prevented the Lions’ defense from gaining any serious traction through the first half of the season.
Flowers did heat up in the middle of the year, constantly pressuring passers and registering 6.0 sacks between Weeks 8 and 14, to go along with his always solid run defense. However, by then, the Lions’ fate had already been sealed, as they were mired in a dreadful losing streak that may last until the end of the year.
Overall, Flowers has had a solid year, and he can set a career-high in sacks should he record one in Sunday’s season finale. Still, it’s fairly obvious that he isn’t capable of carrying an entire defensive front by himself, and the unit’s overall poor play will require the Lions to add more talent next to him in the coming months. Think of how much more dangerous Flowers could be with another powerful edge presence alongside him, siphoning away some of the attention that he attracts.
Don’t fault the Lions for expecting more from Flowers next year, thanks not only to his sky-high salary but the added pressure that comes from the win-or-else mandate that the Lions’ brass will be under in 2020.