The Lions will look towards the offseason to build the future of the franchise.
Yesterday, we discussed three big-money options for general manager Bob Quinn to target in free agency.
Today, we’ll take a look at three mid-tier free agents that won’t result in a huge cap hit for Detroit.
Here are some potential options:
Offensive guard Andrus Peat, Saints (26)
All of the big-money targets we listed were on defense.
While the bulk of Detroit’s offseason moves should address its brutal defense, adding a guard to take the place of Joe Dahl -- 62.9 grade, per PFF -- could boost the Lions' above-average offensive line.
Peat is a Pro Bowl lineman, playing for one of the best lines in the NFL in New Orleans.
He’s been sidelined this year with a broken arm, which could drive his asking price down should he not get the contract he’s looking for from the Saints.
At 26 years old, a four-year deal with an option before he hits 30 makes sense.
Projected salary: $7.5 million AAV over 4 years
Cornerback Trae Waynes, Vikings (28)
We've already discussed the big-money option at cornerback the Lions should target in Byron Jones, if they decide to go all-in on reviving their 30th-ranked pass defense.
However, Waynes is an intriguing consolation prize at a smaller price tag.
Detroit’s biggest need is at the second cornerback spot, and that’s been Waynes’ role behind Xavier Rhodes in Minnesota. It's been a role he's played well in, too.
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The Athletic’s Minnesota beat writer Chad Graff noted it’s likely the Vikings will let Waynes walk due to the players they've recently drafted at the position, including rookie Kris Boyd and second-year pros Mike Hughes and Holton Hill .
Waynes played his college ball at Michigan State. So, he’s already familiar with the area, and is likely interested in a return to the state should Detroit call.
He only makes $3.2M on average per year with the Vikings, but will certainly get a raise via free agency because of other cornerbacks' contracts.
Projected salary: $6.5M AAV over 3 years with a third-year player option
Linebacker Blake Martinez, Packers (26)
As we stated yesterday, Detroit’s biggest need is in the pass rush department, but its worst-performing unit is linebacker.
Should the Lions elect to target an edge-rusher in the draft to complement Trey Flowers, then linebacker should be their priority in free agency.
The only problem with that plan is the shortage of linebackers available in both free agency and the draft.
The Athletic ranks Packers linebacker Blake Martinez as the 44th-best available free agent in 2020.
Martinez has racked up 102 tackles -- second-most in the NFL -- along with starting every game the past three seasons at only 26 years old.
So, the Lions would be wise to prioritize signing this free agent from their division rivals.
Green Bay has the flexibility to bring him back, and has always been a franchise with fantastic player retention.
But if Detroit comes calling with a higher pay day -- Martinez is making $2M in 2019 -- than expected to lock up the field general, then he might end up packing his bags to move to Motown.
Projected salary: $8M AAV over 4 years