5 Free Agents Lions Should Target in Offseason

Read more on the five players the Lions should target in free agency this offseason
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Free agency can be tricky. 

A player can get that big, fat contract, suddenly lose that hunger that made them good to begin with and become a bust. Albert Haynesworth comes to mind. 

Another common pitfall of free agency is that teams have a tendency to try to sign players they are “familiar with.” 

Coaches that used to coach on another team try to bring in as many players as they can from their old team (i.e. Matt Patricia with Patriots players). 

The average NFL career lasts 3.3 years. 

So, needless to say, all of these guys who have played longer than that are “playing with house money." And nobody ever quite knows what the ceiling on any of them actually will be. 

That leaves NFL teams often backing up the Brink's truck, keeping their fingers crossed and hoping for the best. 

Free agency for the Detroit Lions begins by taking care of their own. 

I would highly recommend the team re-signs Marvin Jones Jr., Danny Amendola, Jarrad Davis, Jayron Kearse, Miles Killebrew, Don Muhlbach, Adrian Peterson, Reggie Ragland, Marvin Hall, Jamal Agnew, Jack Fox and yes, Matt Prater, after showing he can still bang a 59-yarder through the uprights a week ago against the Washington Football Team. 

In this mixed bag of players are some dependable veterans and some role players. But, all of them have contributed, and should continue to contribute to the success of the team.  

I have a strong feeling that some team out there will break the bank for Romeo Okwara, because he can get to the quarterback. But, to me, he is not worth funny money. 

I think Kenny Golladay will move on, too, and please let Duron Harmon walk. 

When it comes to free agency, I would find the five most aggressive special teams players in the league, as my next plan of action. 

These are guys that nobody typically cares about, league minimum guys and guys who will help the team control the field position.

Next, I would look at signing the following five free agents, because all five of them significantly raise the level of play. 

All five are aggressive, and aggression wins. 

This will require Detroit to get out of its comfort zone, but it can do it. 

Even Dorothy had to leave Kansas. 

I have extensively studied all five over the past couple of seasons. And guess what, these five can ball.  

1.) LB Matt Milano (BUF) 

It is time for Jamie Collins to go. 

Take the cap hit, and move on. 

He is not bringing to the field what the Lions need to win. 

He only plays when he wants to. 

2019 Scouting Report

#58 Matt Milano - 6’0, 223 pounds (starter) 

Grade: B (Good player, but not elite; he's good enough to win with, however)

Buffalo’s best and most dynamic defensive player. Currently, he is third on the team in tackles. 

In the run game, reads and diagnoses well. Tough and physical at the point. Aggressive, but too inconsistent with his hand usage to shed. Fights to get into position or gets caught up in trash and leverages himself past the run lane. Other times, uses hands to disengage and makes the tackle. When he’s left clean or free, he’s a menace. Needs to be accounted for. Strong, bone-jarring hitter. Strong tackler. Chases things down. Doesn’t stop ‘til the whistle blows. 

In passing situations, showed good range, and has speed to cover. Closes hard usually after the catch is secured, has some ability to blitz and to spin inside or run delayed blitzes. Produces more pressure than sack numbers. Can tip passes. Highlight-film player for this team. Wherever the ball is, he’s usually around it.

2020 update: He is now on IR (which may drive down his asking price), and is expected to make a full recovery from his pectoral injury. I have not seen any drop-off in his level of play on film when he has been on the field. He was still flying all over the place making plays, showing athleticism, desire and good technique. He can cover, and he can get to the quarterback. Milano is a high-octane player, and he is an instant, big-time upgrade. 

2.) FS Xavier Woods (DAL) 

The play from the starting safeties in Detroit leaves a whole lot to be desired.

It is one of the main reasons the Lions get beat. 

From the first moment I ever saw Woods play, his play resonated with me. 

Last week, I suggested the Lions draft Syracuse safety Andre Cisco to replace Harmon. And by getting Woods, suddenly the Lions’ tandem safeties would give the team a presence at safety they can only presently dream of. 

2019 Scouting Report

Xavier Woods - 5-foot-11, 208 pounds (starter) 

Grade: A (Blue-chip player and elite)

Good speed and range, and brings physicality to the position. Has some dynamic ability to him. Playmaker. All over the field, providing help and support both against the pass and the run. Shows ability to quickly get out on running back screens. Can really high tail it and kick on the speed to get in position outside. Can close quickly downhill. Very good range. He’s often in position and right where he is supposed to be and needs to be. Able to keep up and cover tight ends. He’s almost like another corner on the field, with the mentality of a safety. On deeper routes, was able to get there in time, to provide deep help over the top. 

Against the run, shows toughness, and makes some physical tackles and stops. Has courage, and gets right in there. Sometimes, misses, but it’s not due to a lack of effort. Wants it. Good mentality for the game. Gets fired up sometimes, and shows it. I really like this guy, and I’d say he’s the best free safety I’ve seen this season.

2020 update: I have not seen anything in his game that would discourage me from giving this guy whatever he is asking for. Get out the checkbook. Scrappy, tough, physical safety, with range who is all over the field. Comes down low to provide run support, and can dash from sideline to sideline in coverage. Active. Surefire tackler, who serves as a surefire, last line of defense. Christmas will come in the spring in Detroit, if it can ink Woods. 

3.) DE Ifeadi Odenigbo (MIN) 

I cannot pronounce his name, but he will prove to be one of the biggest steals of free agency. 

With Romeo Okwara likely leaving for greener pastures (green as in cash money), Odenigbo is the answer. 

He is a guy who played well in the shadows of Danielle Hunter and Everson Griffen for the Vikings in 2019, and is someone who looks to be coming on for Minnesota as a starter in 2020. 

He shows flexibility playing at both 4-3 ends, and he showed he can bring some heat from the DT position, too, when plugged in there. 

I think he is a more complete DE than Okwara. 

He has stood out to me, especially with his instincts. 

He not only makes Detroit better, he makes the Vikings worse by losing him; in essence, killing two proverbial birds with one stone.

Ifeadi Odenigbo celebrating a fumble recovery. 

Ifeadi Odenigbo celebrating a fumble recovery. 

2019 Scouting Report

Ifeadi Odenigbo - 6-foot-3, 258 pounds (a backup)

Grade: B (Good player, but not elite; he's good enough to win with, however)

Active and strong, with good speed. Has natural pass-rushing ability and some dynamic abilities. Strong at the point of attack. Just gets neutralized at times on the inside, due to his lack of bulk. Has pass-rushing moves. Can swim or slip through the gap to create pressure. Can loop or stunt to create pressure. Can push the pocket some, at times. Instinctive. Hustles. Determined. Can be disruptive. Very interesting. He saw reps in Week 1, when the game was out of hand and then worked his way into the lineup on third-down plays during Weeks 4, 5 and 6. Easily Minnesota’s third-best pass-rushing defensive lineman. More of a pure 4-3 defensive lineman who tackles. But, the Vikings will line him up on the inside in their third-down package, due to having studs at DE. Has seen some action on their kickoff unit, too. 

2020 update: They are only reporting him at 258 pounds. But, to me, he looks, and plays bigger than that. He looks a lot stronger, too. 

There have been a couple of times this season, where he just has jolted opponents like rag dolls. Impressive. Extremely explosive-looking on those plays. Gets movement at the point of contact. A complete DE that shows he can create very real pressure and someone who can take on blocks, disengage, fight through and make tackles against the run, as well. He is a force to be reckoned with, off the edge and also inside. An impactful and disruptive player who can create losses. Underrated. Has shown a lot of brute-force power, which would look good in Honolulu Blue. Brings a real presence to the field. 

4.) CB Kevin King (GB) 

He's injury prone, having missed 23 games since 2017. 

And people either love this guy or they hate him. I personally love him. 

He is a dynamic presence who would give the Lions a dynamic duo with Jeff Okudah. 

I get the feeling he will leave Green Bay, because of the injury bug and the fact the organization has a lot of holes to fill.

Detroit needs to have his agent’s number on speed dial. 

If the Lions are able to pull this off and field Cisco and Woods at safety, along with Okudah and King as their two starting corners, suddenly the Lions would go from having a very mediocre secondary to having one of the very best in the game. 

2019 Scouting Report

#20 Kevin King - 6-foot-3, 200 pounds (starter) 

Grade: A (Blue-chip player and elite)

Opportunistic corner, with some dynamic play-making ability and feel to him. Good playing speed and above-average athletic ability. Can physically challenge receivers off release. Peddles and turns. Can play things pretty tightly. Best way to get him is routes in the short-to-intermediate range, with distinct, sharp or rounded break points (ins, outs and comebacks). In those situations, could give up enough separation to make the catch. Also, showed ability to undercut, jump and make plays on the ball (11 passes defensed). Can reach in when the ball arrives, and more often than not, was right there when the ball did arrive. Contends for the ball, when he’s in position. 

I noticed several times he will even give up some separation to “bait” receivers and quarterbacks, and then, shows the ability to make it up and close quickly. Showed some acceleration and make-up speed. You may get him, but if you keep testing him, he’s going to get you. Takes some calculated chances trying to set things up. Receivers caught passes on him. Defended several passes. Made plays on the ball several times. Showed some attitude and visible emotion. 

Not a pure shutdown corner, but I liked this guy. He stood out to me. I think a team can win with him. Leads the team with three interceptions, has one sack and is third on the team in tackles. 

2020 update: Continues to show the ability to play man and press or play off the ball in zone. He adds that flexibility to the scheme. I love his size. He is able to physically jam receivers. Tough, and provides solid run support. Dependable tackler. Can close back downhill, and is able to stay tight enough in coverage. 

Had a career year in 2019, with five picks and 15 passes defensed. I’m guessing the Lions can steal him away quietly from rival Green Bay, as the Packers may overthink this one -- which they are proving right now by not giving him an extension. This could also create ill will that may not be easily healed between the two sides. I do not see him being back with Green Bay. King would bring a strong presence to the cornerback position for Detroit. 

5.) OT Ty Nsekhe (BUF) 

2019 Scouting Report

#77 Ty Nsekhe - 6-foot-8, 330 pounds (Backup) 

Grade: B (Good player, but not elite; he's good enough to win with, however)

Towering-sized strong tackle, with quick feet and an aggressive side to him. Physically strong. Slides out, uses hands, punches and does a nice job protecting the perimeter. Puts his big mitts on defenders and holds up. Stays with it. Held up against inside rushes. Picked up stunts and blitzes. Occasionally, waist bends, and he gives up pressure. Did a nice job in pass pro. 

In run-blocking situations, seals, shoves hard and blocks. Showed some aggressiveness in run-blocking game. Holds the point -- sometimes just long enough. Solid, and did the job at the second level. He’s played well this season in spots. 

2020 update: He is listed as a backup on Buffalo’s roster at both left tackle and right tackle. And despite his age (35), I believe he is a steal in free agency and someone who may very well slip through the cracks. He has made enough of an impression on me. 

I believe he can start and be very effective at RT for Detroit and that he can be a super value, in terms of his contract. He has great size. He is substantially better than Lions’ current RT Tyrell Crosby. And he would allow possible free-agent bust Halapoulivaati Vaitai to stay put at right guard, which he is much better suited at due to his shoddy footwork. 

These five players all make Detroit a lot better, and that is the name of the game. 

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