Bargain free agent target for the Lions may have never really been in play

Josh Uche was a likely free agent target for the Lions, but it looks like he was never really in play.
Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

The Detroit Lions signed an edge rusher as Day 1 of NFL free agency wound down, agreeing to terms with Marcus Davenport on a one-year, $6.5 million deal worth up to $10.5 million with incentives.

It's fair to say the Lions took a long look at free agent edge rushers on the first day of free agency, particularly those at a reasonable price point. Davenport, coming off a season where he only played four games for the Minnesota Vikings, fit the bill as a bargain signing with upside.

Davenport having familiarity with a couple members of the Lions' coaching staff, since Dan Campbell and Aaron Glenn were with the Saints for Davenport's first three seasons there, probably played some role in the move.

Heading into the start of free agency, Josh Uche made our list of possible bargain targets for the Lions. Through Day 1 of free agency, he remained available.

Josh Uche may never have really been on the table for the Lions

On Tuesday, according to Mike Garafolo and Ian Rapoport of NFL Network, Uche agreed to a one-year deal to remain with the New England Patriots. Garafolo added that Uche "had much more on the table elsewhere", but chose to return to the Patriots.

Albert Breer of SI reported Uche's deal has a base value of $3 million, with incentives that can make it worth as much as $8 million. Doug Kyed of the Boston Herald added Uche was "motivated to return to the Patriots, and had expressed desire to play for new head coach Jerod Mayo.

Uche's sheer sack production fell big time in 2023 (three, from 11.5 sacks in 2022), but his deeper pass rush numbers were not bad. The Patriots may have gotten a real steal, even if he remains purely a situational pass rusher next season.

As Garafolo hinted, the Lions may have been a team who made Uche a better offer than the one he took from the Patriots. Perhaps it was a similar offer to the one they gave Davenport (and Davenport of course took).

Uche seems to have never really been an option on the open market, for the Lions or anyone, if he was so focused on staying in New England. He certainly didn't chase money if he could have gotten more from another team, and the Patriots don't have the look of a contender next season. So he must really want to play for Mayo, and thus chose to stay put for his "prove it" deal.

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