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Top Pass Rushers Lions Should Consider in Free Agency

Our Logan Lamorandier provides a list of the top pass rushers the Lions should consider in free agency this offseason

The Lions were tied for the second-fewest forced sacks in the NFL in 2019. 

Not only that, but quarterbacks had more time to throw against the Lions than any other team in the NFL this past season -- and it wasn't particularly close.

Despite Detroit general manager Bob Quinn handing out a decent-sized contract to Trey Flowers this past offseason, there is still a dire need for another pass rusher -- whether it be on the inside or the edge. 

Given the money already spent at defensive end, it's unlikely the Lions will allocate another big contract at the position. 

That's not to say the Lions won't look to upgrade the JACK linebacker role that Devon Kennard plays. 

Kennard is a solid, well-rounded player, but leaves much to be desired as a threat to getting to the quarterback. 

Unfortunately, the Lions' rigid outlook on scheme fit could also greatly hinder their options.

As always, true pass rushers don't come cheap. 

The Lions will likely need to find a bargain and take a risk on a talented, yet relatively underperforming player.

Let's take a look at some of the bigger names that are currently scheduled to be free agents in 2020. 

It's important to note, though, that more than a few will likely be franchise tagged or extended before even hitting the free-agent market.

Jadeveon Clowney, SEA - The former No. 1 overall pick didn't have his best season in Seattle this year. He still will be a hot commodity if he hits the open market, and likely will be out of the Lions' price range.

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Yannick Ngakoue, JAX - After accumulating 37.5 sacks and 85 quarterback hits in four seasons with the Jacksonville Jaguars, the 25-year-old is in line for quite the payday. Much like Clowney, his cost will likely put the Lions out of contention for his services. Plus, with Patricia's infatuation with size, Ngakoue -- who is listed at 246 pounds -- doesn't fit the bill.

Matt Judon, BAL - This would be the ideal fit for the Lions' JACK position. Much like Kennard in size and position, Judon is primarily a pass rusher but can drop into coverage at times. The former Grand Valley State standout is also solid against the run -- which is high on the priority list for the Lions. If Quinn is willing to spend some money, Judon would be a logical addition.

Shaquil Barrett, TB - Talk about an insane jump in production with a change of scenery. He had a total of just 14 sacks in five years with the Denver Broncos, but then led the league in sacks with 19.5 in 2019 with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Used a bit differently and with more opportunities in Tampa, it's difficult to gauge if this season was just a flash-in-the-pan or if he is the real deal. It's difficult to imagine that his 19.5 sacks are just a complete anomaly. The stats are there, and he will be rewarded handsomely -- unlikely by Detroit.

Vic Beasley, ATL - Outside of his 15.5 sack season in 2016, Beasley has underwhelmed. All the talent and ability is there, but the production has fallen off the past three years. Another player that would likely be used in the JACK role, the former top-10 pick could be an upgrade over Kennard. Beasley is a little light for the Lions' scheme on the edge, but if his cost remains reasonable, it wouldn't be a bad pickup.

Shaq Lawson, BUF - A player many Lions fans were interested in in the 2016 draft, Lawson hasn't lived up to the hype. His season-high for sacks is 6.5, and he's been more of a role player throughout his NFL career. With only 17 career starts and none coming in the 15 games he played in 2019, there is a reason the Buffalo Bills declined his fifth-year option. Not to mention, he is strictly a pass rusher that would likely only be a backup at defensive end.

Markus Golden, NYG - Golden signed a one-year, prove-it type deal with the Giants this year, and racked up 10 sacks -- the most he's recorded since his 12.5-sack campaign in 2016 with the Arizona Cardinals. He hasn't shown much ability in coverage at this point in his career, but his body type would land him in the JACK role in Detroit. With only a $4.75 million cap hit this year, his cost shouldn't skyrocket too much, and he would provide a nice boost to the Lions' pass rush.

Dante Fowler, LAR - His 11.5-sack 2019 season was a bit of a breakout year for Fowler. Another high draft pick with great athleticism, the linebacker would be a welcomed addition. Given his recent success and pedigree, his price range could be outside of what the Lions are willing to pay. Even though he is listed as a linebacker, he very rarely is dropped into coverage. The Lions should still give him a look at the right price.

Robert Quinn, DAL - Quinn definitely fits more into the role of a defensive end in a 4-3 defense. His production waned as a 3-4 outside backer when he was with the Miami Dolphins, and he's struggled with injuries over the years. The 29-year-old rejuvenated his career with the Dallas Cowboys this season, and put that athletic ability on full display. His 2019 season was the first time he posted double-digit sack numbers since 2014. Overall, he doesn't seem like a great fit in the Lions' scheme, and would fail to complement Flowers real well.

Bud Dupree, PIT - Dupree boasts one of the most athletic profiles in the NFL. Off-the-charts potential got him drafted in the first round in 2015. Before 2019, though, he never registered more than six sacks in a season. An 11.5-sack campaign this year greatly boosted his value. He would be a great fit in Kennard's spot, and would really bring some athleticism to the pass rush department.


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