While the Detroit Lions have made a multitude of moves this offseason to restructure the roster, one underrated move can improve the special teams unit.
With the sports world being at a stand still this week, free agent signings have dominated the headlines, and the Detroit Lions are not afraid to be apart of those headlines. While the free agency period isn’t over quite yet, the Lions have made several moves.
And that makes sense considering the squad was 3-12-1 last year and general manager Bob Quinn is looking to make some moves and change up the culture in Lions. The most under-the-radar move of the new players has to be safety Jayron Kearse, who signed a one-year deal worth a reported $2.75 million.
Kearse was buried on the Minnesota Vikings’ depth chart this past season and didn’t see the field much at his primary safety position. But he was still a key component on the special teams unit.
With everything that went wrong for the Detroit Lions in 2018, their special teams unit was sneakily good, ranking eighth in the league per Football Outsiders. Kearse has served as a special teams ace over the last four seasons with the Minnesota Vikings. He’s an enormous safety listed at 6-foot-4, 215 pounds out of Clemson, who rivals the size of former Seahawks All-Pro Kam Chancellor without as much of the poise.
Kearse has appeared in at least 15 games in each of his first four seasons, notching only five starts along the way with one career interception. He was credited with 28 tackles in a career-high three starts last season to go with that lone pick.
Even though he has been heralded by Lions experts as a special teams ace, Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press sees him as more than that, saying that Kearse could be a valuable depth piece to the Lions’ secondary.
"“Kearse should push for playing time in the Lions’ nickel and dime defensive packages – at 6 feet 4, he’s more of a physical presence than the ball-hawking [Duron] Harmon – and he might fill a Miles Killebrew-like role on special teams. Killebrew became an unrestricted free agent at 4 p.m. Wednesday and isn’t expected to return.”"
While Quinn has not made many flashy moves this season for big names, the multitude of deals he has made for underrated players on cheap, short term contracts just has ‘New England Patriots’ written all over it.
It obviously hurts the Detroit Lions secondary to lose Darius Slay on Thursday as well, trading him to the Philadelphia Eagles. And Jayron Kearse is nowhere near as good as Slay. But the addition of free agents like cornerback Desmond Trufant and safety Duron Harmon plus prospects from the upcoming draft can give the Lions a sneaky good coverage unit next season.