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How Lions' 2017 opponents fared in free agency

The Lions know who their home and away opponents will be next season. The full schedule with dates and times will likely be released sometime next month.

Free agency has entered into its second phase, and the NFL Draft is fast approaching. Some teams put all their cards on the table in the first week of free agency, while others have been more narrowly focused. Whatever the strategy was, we now have a good sense of how the Lions' 2017 opponents operated in free agency.

Here's a look at the Lions' 2017 opponents and how they fared in free agency:

Green Bay (home and away)

View photos of guard T.J. Lang.

The Packers signed not one, but two tight ends in Martellus Bennett and Lance Kendricks. Both players should be good targets for quarterback Aaron Rodgers in 2017.

Re-signing outside linebacker Nick Perry was a must after he led them with 12 sacks last season. Another nice move for the Packers.

But it's been a bit of an atypical type offseason for the Packers in that they've let a couple key players walk away in free agency. Green Bay has been notorious for being able to keep their draft picks.

Guard T.J. Lang is headed to division rival Detroit. Center J.C. Tretter went to Cleveland. Defensive back Micah Hyde is now in Buffalo. Defensive lineman Datone Jones left for Minnesota. Running back Eddie Lacy moved on to play in Seattle.

The gains didn't outweight the losses.

Minnesota (home and away)

Minnesota had to address the revolving door at the offensive tackle spots the last few years, and did so in free agency by spending nearly $37 million in guaranteed money on Riley Reiff and Mike Remmers. Both players are upgrades at tackle.

It's the end of an era in Minnesota with the departure of Adrian Peterson and subsequent comments last week by GM Rick Spielman that Minnesota has moved on from the face of the franchise for the past decade. The Vikings signed Latavius Murray to fill the void.

Losing CB Captain Munnerlyn and WR Cordarrelle Patterson will sting a bit, but the Vikings are a better team after free agency than they were heading in.

**Chicago (Home and away)

See which players joined the Lions' 2017 opponents this offseason.


There have been a lot of changes in the windy city over the last couple weeks. The team moved on from quarterback Jay Cutler and signed Mike Glennon to a guaranteed $16 million in 2017. The Bears have already said Glennon will start in 2017.

Chicago has also spent a hefty amount of cash to bring in cornerbacks Prince Amukamara and Marcus Cooper, tight end Dion Sims, safety Quintin Demps and receivers Markus Wheaton and Kendall Wright.

Chicago's biggest loss was Pro Bowl receiver Alshon Jeffery leaving to play for Philadelphia.

The Bears will look much different in 2017.

Atlanta (home)

The Falcons have a Super Bowl caliber roster and didn't have many holes to fill. They targeted a few specific needs in free agency. They added a big run-stuffing defensive tackle in former Chief Dontari Poe, who should improve an area of weakness for Atlanta's defense last year.

They also signed return specialist and backup receiver Andre Roberts from the Lions, and added former Cowboys defensive end Jack Crawford to add depth along their defensive line.

It wasn't a big haul for the Falcons, but it filled some needs on a roster already ripe with talent.

Carolina (home)

Carolina's best move was keeping stud defensive tackle Kawann Short on the franchise tag.

They also did a solid job of filling needs at defensive end (Julius Peppers), nickel corner (Captain Munnerlyn) and safety (Mike Adams). They also had to secure a left tackle, so they signed former Vikings left tackle Matt Kalil to play the same spot for them.

The Panthers traded defensive end Kony Ealy, who never reached his potential in Carolina, and one of its two third-round picks to New England for the Patriots' second-round pick.

Carolina's free-agent haul should allow them to focus on best player available in the draft after a disappointing 2016 season.

Cleveland (home)

The Browns gave up a league-high 66 sacks last season. They knew they had to get better upfront. So, they invested in proven NFL talent with the signings of Packers center J.C. Tretter and Bengals guard Kevin Zeitler. They also extended one of their own in guard Joel Bitonio. All solid moves.

They added a second-round pick by trading for Texans quarterback Brock Osweiler. They had over $100 million in cap space coming in, so the move wasn't that much of a risk, even if Osweiler doesn't play.

Cleveland lost receiver Terrelle Pryor, but gained an experienced -- though less talented -- replacement in Tennessee veteran Kenny Britt.

Pittsburgh (home)

The Steelers have been relatively quiet this offseason. They obviously had a plan to take care of some in-house things first, which is why they made Antonio Brown the highest paid receiver in the game and placed the franchise tag on running back Le'Veon Bell.

They brought back James Harrison, but lost linebacker Lawrence Timmons to Miami. Timmons' departure is the only big loss for Pittsburgh in free agency.

Pittsburgh will look to next month's draft to find their most significant upgrades in 2017.

Arizona (home)

The Cardinals are keeping outside linebacker Chandler Jones in Arizona for another five years. That was priority No. 1 in maintaining an effective pass rush.

They then quickly moved to sign kicker Phil Dawson. Missed kicks cost the Cardinals at least three chances at victories last season.

Losing defensive end Calais Campbell and safety Tony Jefferson will hurt, however.

New Orleans (away)

The Saints were active players in free agency and landed a starting guard in Larry Warford from the Lions, a starting middle linebacker in A.J. Klein from the Panthers and re-signed starting defensive tackle Nick Fairley. They then traded receiver Brandin Cooks to New England for a first-round pick.

The Saints have had one of the league's most potent offenses for years now, but where has it gotten them? They know they have to get better on defense, and the extra first-round pick could allow them to add two playmakers on that side of the ball in the first day of the draft.

Cincinnati (away)

The Bengals re-signed cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick, receiver Brandon LaFell and backup tackle Eric Winston.

But they suffered a couple big hits upfront along their offensive line with the departures of tackle Andrew Whitworth (Rams) and Zeitler (Browns). Losing two starting offensive linemen will sting.

New York Giants (away)

The Giants spent over $100 million in free agency last offseason to help their defense. This year they didn't make as big a splash. Their best move was placing the franchise tag on defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul, and then re-signing him to a four-year deal.

They added some help on offense, too, with the signings of receiver Brandon Marshall and tight end/fullback Rhett Ellison.

They'll likely look to the draft for help along their offensive line.

Tampa Bay (away)

The Buccaneers got bigger on defense and faster on offense. Adding defensive tackle Chris Baker accomplished the first part, and signing receiver DeSean Jackson should help the latter. Re-signing defensive lineman William Gholston and running back Jacquizz Rodgers were nice moves as well.

They still need to find a backup quarterback for Jameis Winston after Glennon left to be the starter in Chicago.

Baltimore (away)

Baltimore made it clear that it places a premium on stopping the run by re-signing nose tackle Brandon Williams.

They also added a nice piece to their defense by signing Cardinals safety Tony Jefferson. He will team with Eric Weddle in the deep middle of the defense.

The Ravens did take a hit when right tackle Rick Wagner signed with Detroit. Wagner is one of the better young right tackles in the NFL, and was a three-year starter for the Ravens. They'll have to find a stopgap there.

An under-the-radar signing might be running back Danny Woodhead. When healthy, he's a playmaker out of the backfield.

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