8 UFL Players Lions Could Sign

Could Lions seek out depth players from UFL?
Michigan Panthers' Breeland Speaks (57) rushes two offensive linemen during a game against the Birmingham Stallions at Ford Field in Detroit on Saturday, May 20, 2023.
Michigan Panthers' Breeland Speaks (57) rushes two offensive linemen during a game against the Birmingham Stallions at Ford Field in Detroit on Saturday, May 20, 2023. / David Rodriguez Munoz / USA TODAY
In this story:

The Detroit Lions are on the verge of finishing offseason workouts and beginning preparations for training camp.

Coach Dan Campbell and his staff will wrap up organized team activities this week, then the team will reconvene for training camp in late summer. Until then, though, the Lions could still make roster additions.

Campbell stated Thursday that the organization would be looking primarily for depth. One potential answer to this will be players from the UFL, who will be available to negotiate and sign with NFL teams beginning on June 16.

Here are eight players the Lions could target when the UFL season comes to a close.

Michigan Panthers DL Breeland Speaks

Speaks emerged as one of the best pass-rushers in the entire league this year, notching league-best totals in sacks with 9.5 and tackles for loss with 13. Detroit needs better production from its pass-rush in 2024, so taking a chance on the most productive player from the UFL could ignite competition.

The defender was a second-round pick of the Chiefs in 2018, but struggled to hold his landing spot in the league. After proving he can produce at the UFL level, he will likely have several suitors. The Lions have already taken a chance on the CFL's top defender from a year ago, so adding Speaks would add a new layer to the competition.

Birmingham Stallions QB Adrian Martinez

The Lions are going to give Hendon Hooker every opportunity to win the backup job behind Jared Goff. However, the Tennessee product has shown through the spring that he still has room to grow.

If Detroit wants to add another arm to the mix, Martinez makes perfect sense. The Lions value players familiar with their scheme, and Martinez was with the organization during camp last year.

It helps the former Nebraska and Kansas State quarterback's case that he is the front-runner to be the league's MVP. He's clearly developed since his time in Detroit, and could make for good competition with Hooker and Nate Sudfeld through camp.

Michigan Panthers K Jake Bates

Bates got on many Lions' fans radars by nailing a series of long kicks in games this season. While his consistency tailed off toward the end of the year, it's still very likely that Bates will be on a roster heading into training camp this fall.

Having already spent time with the Texans in the past, Bates' strong leg makes him formidable competition. The Lions appear to already have a strong competition brewing between Michael Badgley and James Turner, so it remains to be seen whether they'll elect to add a third kicker or bring on Bates at the expense of one of the current competitors.

Regardless, Bates has a strong leg that the Lions have lacked in recent years. Detroit has struggled to find consistency at the position since Matt Prater left, so this offseason could be the time for the organization to find an answer.

DC Defenders WR Ty Scott

Scott had a strong season with the Defenders after failing to make the Kansas City Chiefs' roster as an undrafted free agent. He ranked 11th in the league in receiving yards, and made several impressive catches for the Defenders.

The Missouri State product began his collegiate career at Central Michigan, so there is a local tie. He also brings size, as he's listed at 6-foot-1, 199 pounds. The Lions have plenty of uncertainty as far as receiving depth goes, so competition will be good for the room.

Houston Roughnecks S Markel Roby

Much like the wide receiver room, the Lions have some question marks regarding their depth at the safety position. With Kerby Joseph and Brian Branch both out until training camp, the Lions have experimented with Brandon Joseph, among others, at the position.

If Detroit doesn't feel good about its depth at the position, it could seek out a player like Roby. The Houston safety tied for the league lead in interceptions with three, and also plays with a "mean-streak" coming down from the secondary.

San Antonio Brahmas LB Tavante Beckett

Beckett is another former Lion, as he played four games with the organization in 2021. Since then, though, he has been out of the NFL. He had a productive 2024 campaign with the Brahmas working as an outside linebacker.

Approaching 27 years old, Beckett is more developed than when he first broke in with the Lions. He tied for second with nine tackles for loss, and could also bring some special teams versatility. The Lions seem set with their linebacking corps, but bringing in a player with past ties could be good for competition.

Birmingham Stallions DT Carlos Davis

Detroit's defensive interior was reshaped this offseason with the additions of DJ Reader and Mekhi Wingo. Still, there could be room to improve with a late-offseason addition. In years past, the Lions have coveted additions to this area that provide depth.

Davis finished second in the UFL in sacks behind Speaks, along with providing a steady presence against the run. The Lions could use better pressure from the interior, too, as they look to find an uptick in production in the pass-rush.

St. Louis Battlehawks WR Hakeem Butler

If the Lions are searching for size when it comes to a wide receiver addition, Butler can be their guy. A fourth-round pick of the Arizona Cardinals in 2019, he has just one NFL target to his credit. However, at 6-foot-5, he has the size to be a factor.

The Lions' receiver room lacks size, so bringing in a big-bodied wideout to compete for a spot would be worthwhile. Butler had 45 catches for the Battlehawks this season, and was a very productive target for A.J. McCarron.


Published |Modified
Christian Booher

CHRISTIAN BOOHER

Sports journalist who has covered the Detroit Lions the past three NFL seasons. Christian brings expert analysis, insights and an ability to fairly assess how the team is performing in a tough NFC North division.