5 bargain targets for the Detroit Lions in free agency

As the Detroit Lions shape a free agency plan, these five low-cost options look like nice fits.
Justin Edmonds/GettyImages
4 of 4

1. DL Denico Autry

Sheerly on the idea of following new Lions' defensive line coach Terrell Williams from Tennessee to Detroit, Autry immediately makes a lot of sense. But the 33-year old (34 in July) also had a career-high 11.5 sacks last season, with 53 pressures. He has posted at least 53 quarterback pressures (per Pro Football Focus) in three straight seasons, with 9.0, 8.0 and 11.5 sacks (as mentioned) in those respective seasons.

Autry (6-foot-5, 285 pounds) can line up inside or out on the edge, and he's a strong run defender to go with the juice he can provide as a pass rusher. Here's PFF's evaluation of him, as he sits at No. 65 in their free agent rankings.

"Autry is still one of the strongest 5-technique defensive ends in the game, splitting double teams by lowering his shoulder and barreling through blocks with sheer power or sometimes utilizing a jump chop across the tackle's face to the inside. The wily veteran also does a good job of using a blocker's momentum in a backpedal to slingshot himself forward, always finding a way to end up around the quarterback, even if only to deliver a shot just after the ball gets thrown. Autry will be 34 years old in 2023 but still has good football in his future."

Autry's tie to Williams actually goes back to his 2014 rookie season in Oakland, which was Williams' last season as the defensive line coach there. He has said he wanted to stay in Tennessee, but that was before Mike Vrabel was let go as head coach and Williams decided to leave.

An endorsement from Williams, to both sides, could bring Autry to Detroit.

Next. 3 former Detroit Lions who failed with their new teams in 2023. 3 former Detroit Lions who failed with their new teams in 2023. dark