Five Biggest Free Agency Moves: Detroit Lions
With free agency now into its fourth week as April’s Draft draws closer, it’s time to start reviewing which teams filled some needs and who got weaker. Here are the five biggest free agency moves for each team so far.
With quarterback Matthew Stafford continuing to grow in coordinator Jim Bob Cooter’s offense, the Lions pulled off some incredible fourth quarter comebacks en route to a 9–7 record last season. They remained competitors for the NFC North division title for much of the season, but need to find more talent to build a quality team round Stafford. Here are Detroit’s five biggest free agency moves:
1 — Signing Ricky Wagner
Detroit’s running game has struggled for years, forcing Stafford to carry the offense. So the Lions made moves this off-season to improve the running game. One of those moves was making former Raven Ricky Wagner the league’s highest paid right tackle. Wagner signed a five year, $47.5 million deal and should help improve run blocking for Ameer Abdullah or whichever running back the Lions might draft. Wagner is just 27 and should anchor Detroit’s run game for several seasons.
2 — Signing T.J. Lang
In another move designed to boost their rushing attack, Detroit signed T.J. Lang, the former Packers guard, to a three year, $28.5 million deal. The duo of Lang and Wagner at the right side of the line should drastically improve Detroit’s ground game. The Lions have built a promising offensive line for Stafford. Lang and Wagner join a young talented group that already boasts Laken Tomlinson, Taylor Decker, and Graham Glasgow. Now all they need is a top tier running back.
3 — Signing Paul Worrilow
DeAndre Levy struggled with injuries again last season after missing most of 2015, so the Lions released him. To help fill the void, Detroit signed former Falcon Paul Worrilow, who has been durable for much of his career in Atlanta. Worrilow is 26 and gives Detroit a decent coverage linebacker who could be a solid player. Worrilow only had one start last season, but appeared in 12 games and had two pass breakups. In 2015, Worrilow started 15 games and had four passes defensed, two interceptions, and a forced fumble. Detroit gave Worrilow a one year, $3 million prove-it deal to see if he is ready for a larger role.
4 — Signing DJ Hayden
Former first round corner DJ Hayden was widely considered a bust in Oakland as injuries and poor play saw him fail to meet expectations. However, perhaps a change of scenery will unlock some potential. The Lions need another athletic corner to pair with Darius Slay, and Hayden will have a chance on a one year, $5.25 million deal. In four seasons with the Raiders, Hayden had 26 pass breakups, three interceptions and three forced fumbles.
5 — Signing Akeem Spence
Veteran defensive tackle Haloti Ngata has lost a few steps and Tyrunn Walker signed with the Rams, so the Lions brought in former Tampa Bay tackle Akeem Spence on a three year, $10.5 million deal. Spence was mostly a rotational player with the Buccaneers and has never started a full season, but should still help plug the run. It will be interesting to see if Spence is ready for a larger role.