Starting this morning, we will take a three-part look at the free agent signings that took place around the NFC North division. It's a three-part series because, as you well know, the Green Bay Packers have not made any signings of unrestricted free agents, only tendering two restricted free agents and re-signing another RFA (special-teamer Robert Francois). This morning we begin with the team finishing last in the division in 2012, the Detroit Lions.
The Lions have made a number of signings in the first week of free agency, but they needed to do so as they were left with a staggering number of players as free agents this off-season. Several have been re-signed, including a few key players in the back of the defense, and the Lions have made headlines by snagging a few key players from outside their organization.
Key Free Agent Additions
|Name||Position||Old Team||Contract Details|
|Reggie Bush||RB||MIA||4 years, $16 million|
|Louis Delmas||S||DET||2 years, $9.5M|
|Chris Houston||CB||DET||5 years, $25M|
|Jason Jones||DT||SEA||3 years, $9.5M|
|DeAndre Levy||LB||DET||3 years, $9.75M|
|Glover Quin||S||HOU||5 years, $23.5M|
Bush will give the Lions' offense another dynamic, matching up the bigger, more physical Mikel LeShoure with a quick speedy running back who excels in the passing game. However, the clear focus for the Lions' free agent plan was on defense, and especially in the secondary. Delmas and Houston return as starters, but Quin comes in from Houston where he was used to cover tight ends regularly.
Key Free Agent Losses
|Cliff Avril||DE||SEA||2 years, $13M|
|Gosder Cherilus||T||IND||5 years, $34.5M|
|Sammie Lee Hill||DT||TEN||3 years, $11.4M|
The loss of Avril will likely have the Lions looking for pass-rush help in this year's draft. He didn't provide much assistance against the run, but he's one of the better pure pass-rushers in the league, averaging just under 10 sacks the past three years. Cherilus' departure likely opens up the path for Riley Reiff to start at right tackle, but with left tackle Jeff Backus retiring the Lions will still need another tackle. Hill was good as a rotational interior lineman, but Tennessee is paying him to be a full-time player. The Lions still have Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley holding down the defensive tackle spots though.
Other Free Agent Signings
C Dylan Gandy
T Corey Hilliard
LS Don Mulbach
WR Kassim Osgood
LB Ashlee Palmer
S Amari Spievey
All of these players played in Detroit last season and were re-signed, most of them on one- or two-year deals.
All in all, the Lions are probably finished with any major signings, as they have somewhere around $8 million in salary cap room, depending on the breakdown of Louis Delmas' contract.