Detroit Lions: Explaining the halt in free agent signings

With millions in cap space, why have the Detroit Lions stood still in free agency recently?

The Detroit Lions are currently swimming in cap space. They have the fourth-most in the NFL at an estimated $27.9 million available according to spotrac.com. While they are behind Cleveland, Washington and Miami, and just ahead of Cincinnati, there is something these teams have in common. Four of the five had top-five draft picks in April.

But that’s not why the Detroit Lions haven’t spent a ton of money this offseason, especially recently. There are some limitations to bringing in a new player at the moment. Most players aren’t reporting to camps until July 28 under the new CBA. Don’t expect this team to make any moves until closer to that time.

First, they’ll want to get their players together to see what they have in terms of rookies and draft picks. Once they see what they have, then they will know what they still need or what they feel they can upgrade with the current free agents that are still available.

Second, they simply won’t have any time between now and then to see their players. Then, any newcomer would need to be thought the system and have a shortened timeframe to pick it up and play it efficiently.

While all these free agents are smart, experienced players, it will still take a little time to adjust to a new team, scheme, coach and atmosphere. Thanks to the state of the world, the timeline for in-person communication and on-field experience with a new team has been limited. Signing a new player today wouldn’t guarantee any benefit until late July, other than locking up a player before someone else does.

What free agents could make a difference today?

There are still impact players available as free agents, to be certain. The Lions could benefit from players such as defensive linemen Jadeveon Clowney and Everson Griffen. Other veterans like safety Eric Reid could come in and help out this defense. A less obvious option could be wide receiver Josh Gordon to form a super scary receiver group.

None of these players will be signed very soon. Not by the Lions anyway. The closer we get to training camp, the greater the chance of these players’ price tags coming down. And with so much uncertainty surrounding the 2020 NFL season, there’s no rush to spend the money you have available.

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Potential injuries, and now potential sickness, could lead to a team being shorthanded during the season. Having some extra cash to bring in the best players available to fill those holes isn’t a bad strategy. While the Lions could bring in a free agent or two before the season starts, don’t expect it to happen any time soon.

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