1. Bengals RB Samaje Perine
If the Lions lose Jamaal Williams in free agency, which is a concept fans don’t want to even consider but can’t be ruled out, they will be in the market for a running back with power (and versatility?). D’Andre Swift can be trusted to stay healthy, and even when he was back in uniform this season the coaching staff didn’t seem to trust him with a notable workload most of the time.
Perine has a powerful build (5-foot-11, 235-240 pounds), with chops as a pass catcher (65 catches over the last two seasons) and the ability to hold up in pass protection. He has obviously been working behind Joe Mixon in Cincinnati, limiting his workload and residually holding his raw production down.
But in five games over the last two seasons where he has had double-digit carries, Perine has had 83, 75, 82, 93 and 155 yards from scrimmage. To call him a certified workhorse-type who just needs the actual role to be that kind of guy is probably a reach, but there’s no denying Perine has been productive with his opportunities in Cincinnati.
Perine will not break the bank in his free agent contract, with Spotrac only projecting a one-year, $3.5 million deal for him (with the two-year deal Williams signed with the Lions in 2021 among the comps). A team or two may be willing to go to two or three years with him at that price to use him as part of a formidable backfield rotation–and use him as a bigger part of the offense than he’s consistently been with the Bengals.
The Lions, again in case of or based on the premise/prospect of possibly losing Williams, should have Perine on their free agency radar at this stage.