Grading the Detroit Lions early free agency moves

Bob Quinn, Detroit Lions (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)
Bob Quinn, Detroit Lions (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images) /
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Detroit Lions new tackle
(Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images) /

Detroit Lions sign defensive linemen

Nick Williams, Defensive Tackle

Nick Williams agreed to a two-year deal worth $10 million dollars to address the interior of the defensive line, where the Detroit Lions lost three players from last year’s roster. A’Shawn Robinson, Mike Daniels, and recently released Damon Harrison, are all gone leaving a big gap in the Detroit Lions defensive front.

Williams is 6-foot-4, 310 pounds, and may have only started five games in 2019 but he generated 6.0 sacks for the year. He is on his fourth team but offers a big, strong under-the-radar signing for Bob Quinn.

Grade: C-, although Williams has not been a regular starter in the NFL, he has the requisite size, and his 2019 was encouraging. However, at 30-years-old, and being a part-time player, the ten million dollars doesn’t seem justified. The Lions had a big need along their defensive line, so that may have something to do with the extra cash thrown at Williams.

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Danny Shelton, Nose Tackle

Additionally, The Lions brought in Danny Shelton, a nose tackle, who played for the Cleveland Browns and New England Patriots. “Patriots West” jokes aside, Shelton is an effective run stopper at 6-foot-2, 345 pounds, and is only 26-years-old; he can fill gaps and allow linebackers and others to make plays behind him.

Shelton, the former first-round pick, has agreed to a two-year, $8,000,000 contract, and gives the Detroit Lions depth and a big body to rotate inside to help replace Damon Harrison and A’Shawn Robinson in early-down packages.

Grade: B, not an expensive price tag for a young, rotational player who has experience in the Patriots style of defense. The only downside is that Shelton isn’t an every-down player.

The Detroit Lions are not finished adding pieces on the defensive line, so we’ll have to wait to see if they have any more additions prior to the NFL Draft in April. We have to think that not signing or re-signing any other players for this unit signals a move towards taking a lineman early in the draft, like Derrick Brown or Javon Kinlaw, possibly. What is curiously missing is any help at end, where many fans have hoped that edge-end Chase Young might fall to us in the draft.