5 free agents the Detroit Lions should pounce on in 2021

Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster (Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports)
Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster (Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports) /
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Ryan Kerrigan, Washington Football Team
Washington Football Team defensive end Ryan Kerrigan (Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports) /

1. Ryan Kerrigan, DE

Defensive end Romeo Okwara leads the Lions with 6.0 sacks this season and deserves to be re-signed in Detroit. And whether that happens or not, Detroit still has a severe lack of competent pass rushers. If defensive end Everson Griffen has a strong end to his season, he’s also a pending free agent that could be retained.

Pass rusher Yannick Ngakoue would be the preferred free agent signing here. But the fact the Baltimore Ravens traded a third and a conditional fifth-rounder for him in October likely means he’ll sign a long-term deal there.

In that case, the Lions really should try to retain Romeo Okwara for another season or more. This would give them Okwara and Trey Flowers as a solid rushing duo and another year to develop Romeo’s little brother, Julian Okwara, Detroit’s third-round selection out of Notre Dame.

But adding 2021 free agent Ryan Kerrigan to the mix would give the Lions a proven pass rusher similar to the move Detroit made for Griffen earlier this season. Kerrigan could not only serve as a bridge player for the younger Okwara to develop, but the veteran can be a rotational and situational pass rusher that could be an effective starter if needed. And considering he’ll be 33-years old next season, the 10-year veteran would likely benefit from seeing fewer snaps.

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Ryan Kerrigan has posted double-digit sack totals for four out of his previous six seasons prior to 2020. So far this year, he recorded 4.5 sacks in nine games. Kerrigan has only started one game so far this season, playing under 37% of the defensive snaps.