TWENTYMAN: 10 free agents that could interest Lions

The new league year begins in one week at 4 p.m. March 18, and with it the official start of free agency.

The Lions have a significant amount of cap space to find help in the free agent market this offseason.

Detroit already got started in that regard with the re-signing of veteran slot receiver Danny Amendola last month. His re-signing means Detroit returns all three of its top receivers from last season.

Here is a list of players in free agency who could be a potential fit for the Lions:

1. Byron Jones, CB, Dallas

Jones is a terrific athlete who has excelled in both man and zone schemes. He's also got position versatility, having played safety before the switch to corner. Jones doesn't create a lot of turnovers, but he's a sound and willing tackler in the run game, and is probably the top cornerback on the market at only 27 years old. He was graded in the top 10 among all cornerbacks by Pro Football Focus last season.

2. D.J. Reader, DT, Houston

A terrific run-stuffing nose tackle, who also showed the ability to rush the passer a little bit in 2019 with a career-high 13 quarterback hits. Reader, 26, will draw interest as a run stuffer first, but he's proven he can push the pocket and play on passing downs too. He was the sixth highest graded interior defensive lineman by PFF last season.

3. Corey Littleton, LB, Los Angeles Rams

A quintessential three-down linebacker in a time when teams are desperately looking for linebackers who can cover and play in space. Littleton can match up with tight ends and play in space in the passing game. He has five interceptions, 22 passes defensed, 259 tackles, 7.5 sacks and 15 tackles for loss over the past two seasons. He'd instantly make Detroit a more solid defense up the middle as one of the top off-ball linebackers in the game.

4. Kenyan Drake, RB, Arizona

Drake fit right in with the Cardinals after a midseason trade from Miami to Arizona. In eight games with the Cardinals, Drake ran for 643 yards and scored eight touchdowns, averaging 5.2 yards per carry. He'd be a nice player to pair with Kerryon Johnson and Bo Scarbrough to round out the Lions running back room along with Ty Johnson.

5. Chris Harris, CB, Denver

Harris has a long track record of success, but he's going to be 31 at the start of this season. He can play man or zone, and also has some experience playing inside, though the Lions already have Justin Coleman in that role. Harris was graded a top 30 corner by PFF last season. He is likely headed toward a short-term deal given his age.

6. Javon Hargrave, DT, Pittsburgh

He ended the season with 43 total pressures from the interior, which was top 10 among interior defenders. He did that while still being a plus defender against the run. The Lions are looking to get more production from the interior of their defense. Hargrave is an ascending player, who recorded 60 tackles last season and who has amassed 10.5 sacks over the last two seasons. He's also only missed one game in his career.

7. Tavon Wilson, S, Detroit

Wilson was a productive player for the Lions' defense in 2019. He was one of two safeties in the NFL to have at least 90 tackles, three tackles for loss, five pass defenses and one sack this past season. He's smart, productive and fits some of the versatility traits the Lions like in their secondary.

View photos of Detroit Lions executive vice president & general manager Bob Quinn and head coach Matt Patricia meeting the media at the NFL Scouting Combine Tues., Feb. 25, 2020 in Indianapolis.

8. Joe Thuney, G, New England

Thuney finished last season with the No. 5 grade among all guards by PFF. He's at his best in pass defense, allowing just one sack over his last two seasons. Tuney's started 64 consecutive games for the Patriots over the last four years.

9. Case Keenum, QB, Washington

It seems more and more likely the Lions will opt to sign a veteran quarterback in free agency to compete for their backup quarterback job behind Matthew Stafford. Jeff Driskel could be in the mix here too. In Keenum, the Lions would get someone who's played in 67 career games and has a career touchdown-to-interception ratio of 75-to-47. He's proven he can step in and win games, if needed.

10. Jamie Collins, OLB, New England

Collins started 15 games and played 81 percent of the snaps for New England's top-ranked defense last season. He set a career-high with seven sacks to go along with 81 tackles, 21 quarterback hurries, 10 tackles for loss and three interceptions.

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