The re-signing phase will play a crucial role in whether or not the Lions target any players in free agency. In the second part of this series, we take a look at some of these potential players.
Free Agent Targets: I’m optimistic that if the Lions can get everyone signed around what they’re making right now, that they could use the cap room from letting Cliff Avril and Corey Williams go to pick up a free agent or two. Realistically, since this franchise is strapped for cash, they won’t make a major splash or impact in free agency. This year’s free agency class is deep, there’s going to be a fair amount of turnover, and I have a feeling that the good teams will just simply get better. It’s pretty absurd how deep some of the positions are, and it will be interesting to see which players end up testing free agency.
The two players that I look at on this list and think are viable options, given the cap room that the Lions will have are RB Reggie Bush and CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. I’d love to add an offensive lineman or a safety, but I think that getting one worth while will cost too much money. Neither Bush or DRC had an exceptional year and their value seemed to take a bit of a hit. Bush had a cap hit of $6 Million this year, and DRC had a cap hit of about $3 Million; both are viable cap hits for the Lions to take on. A third player that the Lions might take a look at is CB Brent Grimes. Grimes is coming off an achilles tendon injury though, and is an elite talent, so I wouldn’t expect this to happen.
Reggie Bush has excelled in a spread offense, which is mostly what the Lions have run recently. And would be a valuable asset in the passing game. He has proved throughout his career that he is reliable catching the ball out of the backfield, and his speed and quickness would make him the perfect compliment for Mikel Leshoure. He would be a very solid replacement for Jahvid Best, whose career is 99% over. Rodgers-Cromartie is a good, but not great corner. He would be a good #2 for the Lions, even though Chris Houston is not a true #1 corner. He is extremely fast and can play good enough in man coverage, plus he can run with any receiver in the league. Both of these players would be huge assets for the Lions in the coming season.
Unfortunately with the year that Chris Houston had, he’s going to want more money than the $3 Million he signed for last year, and it’s even possible that he could go somewhere else and take a bigger contract. Which would be absolutely devastating to the secondary. The money that the Lions are going to have in free agency is going to be very little, considering the amount of guys that they have to resign. The only hope to get more of it, is to have Jeff Backus retire, and restructure the deals of Ndamukong Suh and Matthew Stafford. Preferably to sign both of them to long-term deals that would lower their cap hit, but I’m not sure that will be possible. It’s going to be an interesting offseason, but if they could somehow keep the guys they need to like Houston, and then add DRC and Reggie Bush to get some explosiveness in the run game, then this team could be on the rise again. It would allow them to address their defensive line and offensive line needs through the draft, which would be crucial.