The Detroit Lions appear to have a need for another pass rusher or two. Will the Motor City opt to make that kind of splash signing in free agency?
An effective pass rush is a cornerback’s best friend. And since the Detroit Lions opted to trade away their best cornerback, three-time Pro Bowler Darius Slay earlier this month, Motown could use an extra pass rusher or two.
Sure, the Lions signed former 2015 Pro Bowl cornerback Desmond Trufant via free agency this offseason. And Detroit could certainly use the third overall selection in the upcoming NFL draft to secure the position post-Slay as well. Regardless, pass rush is still a concern in Motown.
Last offseason, the Lions signed former New England Patriots defensive end Trey Flowers to a five-year, $90 million deal. In return, Flowers tied for the team lead with 7.0 sacks. That number wasn’t a surprise as he averaged that exact amount during his three previous seasons in New England.
Unfortunately, the defender who tied Flowers as the Lions’ sack leader last season, linebacker Devon Kennard, was up and released after the Lions inked another ex-Patriot free agent, Jamie Collins, the replace him. Collins recorded a career-high 7.0 sacks last season in his return to New England.
Despite essentially swapping one 7.0 sack linebacker for another, the Lions’ pass rush still struggled in 2019. The team recorded a total of 28 sacks last season, only six of which came from defensive linemen not named Flowers.
But the Lions still have an opportunity to bolster their pass rush as there are several big-name pass rushers still available entering the third week of free agency. The question is whether Detroit is willing to pay the price to acquire them.
Undoubtedly, the biggest name remaining in free agency is defensive end, Jadeveon Clowney. The first overall selection in the 2014 NFL Draft, Clowney posted a pedestrian 3.0 sacks in 13 games with the Seattle Seahawks last season. Yet, Pro Football Focus still gave him an overall grade of 87.3, his second year in a row to post a grade in the high eighties.
Having just turned 27-years old, Clowney has likely not played his best football yet. But Detroit would have to pay a premium to acquire him. Although the longer he’s on the open market, his price tag could drop.
A potential free-agent pass rusher that would seemingly make more sense for the Detroit Lions would be Everson Griffen. A 10-year veteran with their NFC North foes, Minnesota Vikings, the Detroit brass should be well aware of what the 32-year old defensive end is capable of. Coming off an 8.0 sack season in Minnesota, the Lions putting in a bid for Griffen’s services, even if only for a one-year deal, makes a lot of sense.