LIONS INSIDER

TWENTYMAN: A look at the Lions' 26 free agents

Posted Jan 10, 2018

Tim Twentyman takes a look at all 26 of the Detroit Lions' soon to be free agents.

UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS (17)

Ziggy Ansah

Position: Defensive end

2017 stats: 44 tackles, 12.0 sacks, 17 QBH, 15 TFL, 1 FF and 1 FR

Twentyman: Ansah battled injury most of the year, but came on strong at the end with six sacks in his last two contests. Ansah is an freak athlete, and Detroit’s best player upfront. There’s going to be a significant market for him, but I don’t see the Lions letting him get away.

Haloti Ngata

Position: Defensive tackle

2017 stats: Seven tackles, 2.0 sacks and 1 PD in five games

Twentyman: With Ngata in the lineup the first five games of the season, Detroit’s defense allowed on average 74.6 yards per game on the ground. After he was lost for the rest of the year with a torn bicep, that number ballooned to 114 yards per game. Ngata showed he still has something left in the tank.

Tahir Whitehead

Position: Linebacker

2017 stats: 110 tackles, 1.0 sack, 1 INT, 2 PD, 4 QBH, 9 TFL, 4 FR

Twentyman: Whitehead has been versatile for the Lions, playing both inside and outside in his tenure in Detroit. He said right after the season he hasn’t yet had a conversation with the team about his future, but that really depends on the coaching staff and what the scheme looks like. Whitehead has recorded over 100 tackles in each of his last two seasons.

Nevin Lawson

Position: Cornerback

2017 stats: 43 tackles, 4 PD, 1 QBH, 1 FF, 1 FR

Twentyman: Lawson is scrappy, physical and one of those corners who is simply a pain to play against for a receiver. Opposing passers had a passer rating of 104.8 throwing Lawson’s way this season, but he gave up just one touchdown all year. He could be signed back to see where he might fit into the mix during camp.

Travis Swanson

Position: Center

2017 stats: 11 games, 1.0 sack allowed, 3 penalties

Twentyman: For a second year in a row, Swanson’s season was ended prematurely by a concussion. Both times the symptoms lasted a number of weeks. The problem for Swanson is that second-year center Graham Glasgow played well in his place this season.

DJ Hayden

Position: Cornerback

2017 stats: 42 tackles, 0.5 sacks, 9 PD, 1 QBH, 1 TFL, 2 FR

Twentyman: Sometimes a player needs a new environment and a clean slate. Hayden got that in Detroit after being a first-round selection in Oakland. Hayden was a steady performer alongside Lawson and opposite Slay this season. He didn’t give up a single touchdown, and quarterbacks had just a 76.7 passer rating when throwing his way. The Lions could certainly look to bring him back this offseason.

Tavon Wilson

Position: Strong safety

2017 stats: 55 tackles, 2.0 sacks, 1 INT, 2 PD, 2 QBH, 6 TFL, 1 FF in 10 games

Twentyman: Wilson has been very good alongside Glover Quin the last two years. He is smart and a very good tackler, which fits exactly what the Lions want in their strong safety. What will be interesting this offseason is what the new coaching staff decides to do with Quandre Diggs. He was terrific after moving over from cornerback to safety to fill in for Wilson. If that move becomes permanent, it could have an effect on Wilson in free agency.

Don Muhlbach

Position: Long snapper

2016 stats: The Lions made 30 field goals and registered a net punting average of 39.3

Twentyman: Death. Taxes. Don Muhlbach. That’s all that really needs to be said here.

Paul Worrilow

Position: Linebacker

2017 stats: 30 tackles, 1 PD, 1 QBH, 1 TFL, 1 FR

Twentyman: Worrilow played in 13 games with eight starts and proved to be a nice veteran addition to Detroit’s linebacking corps this season. Detroit will likely want Jalen Reeves-Maybin to play a bigger role in year two. What that means for Worrilow in free agency is yet to be determined.

Don Carey

Position: Safety

2017 stats: Carey was second on the team with nine special teams tackles.

Twentyman: Carey continues to be one of the better special teams players in the NFL. He was second on the team with nine tackles this season. Plus, he’s a terrific veteran presence in the locker room and part of Detroit's leadership council.

Darren Fells

Position: Tight end

2017 stats: 17 receptions, 177 yards (10.4 avg.), 3 TDs

Twentyman: Fells took on a much larger role in the passing game early on this season when Eric Ebron was struggling with consistency. As Ebron came on the second half of the season, Fells’ role diminished. The Lions are likely going to look to give Michael Roberts a bigger role in his second season, and Ebron is expected to be back on the fifth-year option of his rookie contract. What will that mean for Fells?

Dwight Freeney

Position: Defensive end

2017 stats: Three tackles, 3.0 sacks, 1 PD, 4 QBH, 3 TFL (all with SEA)

Twentyman: The Lions claimed Freeney late in the year after he was released by Seattle. He provided a nice veteran presence in the defensive line room, but did not record a stat in five games with Detroit.

Nick Bellore

Position: Linebacker

2017 stats: Six tackles, 1.0 sack / 1 rec., 1 yard, 1 TD

Twentyman: Bellore was a core special teamer and backup linebacker, and even got some run in short-yardage situations as a fullback. He caught his first career touchdown. Players who can do multiple things, like Bellore, will always find work in this league.

Don Barclay

Position: Guard

2017 stats: Three games (one start), 0 sacks allowed, 3 penalties

Twentyman: Barclay played a reserve role in Detroit, but was forced into action late in the year when T.J. Lang missed the Cincinnati game with a foot injury. All three of Barclay’s penalties (two false starts & one hold) came in that contest.

Greg Robinson

Position: Tackle

2016 stats: Six games, 5.5 sacks, 2 penalties

Twentyman: The Lions traded for Robinson, a former No. 2 overall pick, in the hopes he could help stem the loss of Taylor Decker early in the season. It didn’t turn out the way the Lions hoped. Robinson struggled in that role, and lasted just six games before the Lions waived-injured him. He reverted back to their injured reserve list when no other team picked him up. It seems unlikely his future lies in Detroit.

Jordan Hill

Position: Defensive tackle

2016 stats: No stats

Twentyman: Hill suffered a bicep injury in the preseason and was placed on season-ending injured reserve. He was in contention for the fourth defensive tackle job at the time of his injury. With defensive tackle still a position of need for the Lions, Hill could be brought back in free agency for a chance to compete for a role once again.

Mike James

Position: Running back

2017 stats: No stats

Twentyman: Like Hill, James was placed on injured reserve during training camp (concussion). There’s going to be a lot of shakeup in Detroit’s backfield this offseason. It’s way too early to know if James is part of their future plans.

RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS (4)

TJ Jones

Position: Wide receiver

2017 stats: 30 receptions, 399 yards, 1 TD

Twentyman: As fourth receivers go, the Lions have a pretty darn good one in Jones. He can play all three receiver spots, and has become a reliable target for quarterback Matthew Stafford. I wouldn't be surprised if the Lions tender an offer to Jones this offseason.

Zach Zenner

Position: Running back

2017 stats: 14 rushes, 26 yards (1.9 avg.), 1 TD

Twentyman: After getting considerable playing time at the end of the 2016 season, Zenner was strictly a backup in 2017 and only saw action in eight games. Changes are coming to Detroit’s backfield, and it’s yet to be determined if Zenner is part of the team’s plans moving forward.

Brandon Copeland

Position: Linebacker/defensive end

2017 stats: No stats

Twentyman: Copeland was lost to a torn pectoral muscle in the middle of training camp. The linebacker/defensive end can wear many hats for a defense, which is his biggest attribute. It will depend on what the coaching staff and the defensive scheme look like in 2018 to determine whether or not Copeland will be offered a contract.

Zac Kerin

Position: Center

2017 stats: One game, 0 sacks, 1 penalty

Twentyman: Kerin was acquired via waivers from Minnesota and made his Lions debut Week 3 vs. Atlanta. Unfortunately for him, he suffered a knee injury vs. Atlanta and spent the rest of the season on IR.

EXCLUSIVE RIGHTS FREE AGENTS (5)

Kerry Hyder Jr.

Position: Defensive end

2017 stats: No stats

Twentyman: Detroit’s leading sacker in 2016 with eight, Hyder was expected to start opposite Ziggy Ansah this offseason, but an Achilles injury suffered in the first preseason game ended his season. Hyder is working hard this offseason to get back better than ever, and I’d never count him out when he sets his mind to something.

Jake Rudock

Position: Quarterback

2017 stats: 3-of-5 passing, 24 yards, 0 TD, 1 INT, 32.5 rating

Twentyman: Rudock filled in for the injured Stafford at the end of the Ravens game and ended up throwing a pick-six. The Lions have developed him for a couple season now, and seem to like the way he’s progressing.

Kasey Redfern

Position: Punter

2017 stats: 1 punt, 50 yards, 50.0 net avg.

Twentyman: Redfern filled in for the injured Sam Martin all of training camp and had a very good camp. He had a nice first punt Week 1 vs. Arizona before disaster struck on his second attempt. He dropped the snap on his second punt attempt and then took off running before being hit along the sideline and tearing his ACL. The Lions are always in need of an extra punter in the offseason and training camp. If his knee is healed up, why not Redfern?

Christian Ringo

Position: Defensive tackle

2017 stats: Three tackles, 2 QBH

Twentyman: Ringo turned into a nice reserve defense tackle at the end of the year. He was active and disruptive, and could certainly be back in Detroit this offseason competing for a spot along the defensive line.

Rodney Coe

Position: Defensive tackle

2017 stats: No stats

Twentyman: Coe was picked up on waivers from Seattle in mid-December, but never saw game action in Detroit. The former undrafted rookie has bounced around to a number of practice squads his first couple years in the league.