The first wave of free agency has come and gone, and the Detroit Lions were major players with the acquisitions of defensive lineman Trey Flowers, cornerback Justin Coleman, tight end Jesse James and wide receiver Danny Amendola.
Detroit’s already begun to dip their toes in the second wave of free agency with the signings of safety Andrew Adams and guard Oday Aboushi Thursday night.
There are still some very good players available in free agency that could add talent and depth to the Lions roster.
Which free agents still on the market could potentially be a fit for the Lions?
Eli Harold, OLB, Detroit: The Lions traded for Harold before the start of last season, and he provided quality depth behind Devon Kennard. He recorded 4.0 sacks and played in 13 games. He knows the scheme and would help with depth at the LB position heading into 2019.
View photos of Detroit Lions free-agent signings Trey Flowers, Justin Coleman and Jesse James signing their contracts and meeting the media on Thursday, March 14, 2019.
Ricky Jean Francois, DT, Detroit: Jean Francois is a terrific presence in the locker room and the defensive line room as an 11-year veteran. He played in all 16 games for the Lions last season with 11 starts. He recorded 30 tackles and a couple sacks. He’s finished each of the last four seasons with a positive grade from Pro Football Focus, so there’s been little to no drop off in his game at age 32.
Morris Claiborne, CB, New York Jets: Claiborne has started 30 games for the Jets the last two seasons with 100 tackles, 22 passes defended and three interceptions, one of which he returned for a touchdown. He can cover, and is a plus run defender on the outside, which could be attractive to some teams.
Blake Bortles, QB, Jacksonville: Bortles was released by the Jaguars after the team signed Nick Foles to be their new starter. Bortles, 26, has 73 starts under his belt and has won a couple playoff games. He’s thrown 103 touchdown passes (75 interceptions) over the last five years, and could give the Lions an experienced backup to Matthew Stafford if the price is right.
Matt Cassel, QB, Detroit: Cassel will be entering his 16th season, and there’s really nothing the 36-year-old hasn’t seen from a defense at this point. There’s real value to that in a quarterback room as a backup, and Cassel and Stafford appeared to work well together last season.
Nick Bellore, FB, Detroit: Nick Bawden is expected to be back in the fold at fullback for the Lions after missing his rookie season with a torn ACL. Still, Bellore made the switch from linebacker to fullback full-time last season, and played well in that role. Competition breeds success, and the Lions could foster that at fullback with the signing of Bellore.
T.J. Yeldon, RB, Jacksonville: The Lions have Kerryon Johnson and Theo Riddick, and recently re-signed Zach Zenner, but they still could add another runner to that mix. The draft seems like a more likely place to find that runner at this point, but Yeldon has a career 4.0 average yards per rush and would add a power element to Detroit’s backfield.
Darius Philon, DT, Los Angeles Chargers: The 2015 sixth-round pick is coming off his best season as a versatile run stuffer with some pass rush ability. He’s recorded back-to-back seasons with 30-plus tackles and four-plus sacks, and is only 25 years old.
Bashaud Breeland, CB, Green Bay: In Breeland, the Lions would add a five-year veteran with 62 starts under his belt. He defended 19 passes and had 50 tackles in his last full season in Washington in 2017.
Jermaine Kearse, WR, New York Jets: Kearse had some of his best years in the league playing in Seattle in Darrell Bevell’s system. He caught 65 passes for 810 yards and five touchdowns in 2017. He’s coming off a 37-catch season last year, and could be a solid No. 4 option in a Lions receiving corps that still needs to add depth.