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12 Free Agent targets the Lions should pursue in 2013


William Hayes, DE, ST. Louis- Winston-Salem, 05-02-1985, 6’2, 258 lbs.

Rotoworld recently addressed each team’s needs, filling them with a free agent to solve that need. Hayes was awarded that player for Detroit.

In 2012, Hayes had a career year as the St. Louis Rams No. 3 defensive end, and will surely look for a team in free agency to become a starter. The supply and demand fits both the Lions and Hayes. He was originally drafted in 2008 by the Tennesse Titans, as Jim Schwartz was the defensive coordinator, and followed Jeff Fisher to St. Louis for 2012.

Last season, without recording a single start, Hayes came in contact with the quarterback 24 times (sacks, hits and hurries) while tallying 35 tackles and 7 sacks on just 379 snaps. Putting that in context, Cliff Avril came in contact with the quarterback 35 times with 9 sacks, while nearly doubling Hayes’ snap count at 708 snaps. Where Hayes separates himself from Avril, is in run defense. In 16 games played, he had a plus grade twelve times versus the run, including the last four.

With the departure of Kyle Vanden Bosch, and likely Cliff Avril, the Lions need to address their need at defensive end through free agency. With only one defensive end currently under contract, Hayes gives them a peaking, young defensive end at a manageable cost.

 

Glover Quin, S, Houston- New Mexico, 01-15-1986, 5’11, 204 lbs.

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The Lions currently have Don Carey, Tyrell Johnson and John Wendling under contract for next season at safety. If they hope to contend with the likes of Aaron Rodgers, Jay Cutler and the rest of the star-studded quarterback crop in the NFC, that must change.  The Lions may look for a splash in free agency at the safety position, Glover Quin could become their best option.

In 2012, Quin forced four turnovers, adding 84 tackles and recording a sack showing his nose for the football, with a grade of +5.1 against the run, according to Pro Football Focus . Quin has the ability to play deep center field, lined up against tight ends, and in the box versus the run. He has great instincts combined with explosion and speed (ran a 4.50 40-yard dash) to be a ball-hawk for the Lions.

This move, without a doubt, will be the toughest to pull off, given the Lions tight cap room. However, Mayhew has been very straight forward with the pressing need of playmakers on defense, and pursuing Quin would go a long way towards reaching that goal.

 

Glenn Dorsey, DT, Kansas City- LSU, 01-08-1985, 6’2, 316 lbs.

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The Detroit Lions our reportedly not showing interest in defensive tackle Sammie Lee Hill. If that’s the case, as well as Corey Williams leaving town, the Lions will be in need of a rotational tackle behind Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley.

Glenn Dorsey, placed as a defensive end in the Kansas City Chiefs 3-4 scheme, has been out of position his entire career, following his 5th overall selection in the 2008 NFL Draft.

Arrowhead Pride editor Joel Thorman had this to say about Dorsey.

“After his first year in Kansas City, the Chiefs moved to a 3-4 defense, which meant Dorsey moved to defensive end, a position he hadn’t played before. That’s when the “Dorsey is out of position!” chants started in Kansas City, and they never really stopped…Dorsey is a solid player and would be a fine pick up for any team, but I don’t think he’s the next great defensive tackle. Because he was such a high pick and didn’t rush the passer, it was hard to truly get excited about him.”

In Detroit, behind two of the top defensive tackles in the NFC, Dorsey would add a solid space eating resource that the Lions will miss without Corey Williams.

 

Chris Gamble, CB, Carolina- Ohio State, 11-03-1983, 6’1, 181 lbs.

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Defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham stated his desire to add bigger cornerbacks this off-season. Chris Gamble would add a big cornerback who, at age 29, still has a few years left in the tank.

Gamble, in his seven seasons with the Panthers prior to 2012, caused 31 turnovers (27 interceptions, 4 forced fumbles) before he was limited too just four games in 2012 with a shoulder injury. In 2011, Gamble tallied 45 tackles, three interceptions and twelve pass defended garnering a positive 8.9 overall grade and a positive 7.2 pass coverage grade, tying for 12th in the league.

If the Lions our looking for a one year veteran cornerback, allowing their three 2012 draftees to develop, Chris Gamble could be a top option.

 

Kenny Phillips, S, New York Giants- Miami (Fla.) 11-24-1986, 6’2, 208 lbs.

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As stated before, the Lions have Don Carey, Tyrell Johnson and John Wendling under contract for next season at safety. They simply cannot stand pat in the pass-happy NFC. In comes former New York Giants safety Kenny Phillips. Since Stevie Brown took over at safety for the Giants following Phillips’ injury in week four, the two parties have been destined to part-ways.

Phillips, a year removed from a four interception season were he helped the Giants win the Super Bowl, is just 26 years old and entering the prime of his playing career.

In 2012, he graded positive in pass coverage in all eight games he saw the field, according to Pro Football Focus. Last season he tallied 24 tackles and 3 passes defended in a back-up role.

With the uncertainty surrounding Louis Delmas’ return to Detroit, Phillips would add a veteran presence with play-making ability to the Lions last line of defense.

 

Kyle Arrington, CB, New England- Hofstra, 08-12-1986, 5’10, 196 lbs.

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The Lions have made it clear their top priority in free agency will be retaining in-house cornerback Chris Houston. Now they must find a cornerback to compliment him.

Kyle Arrington will test the open market after he was unable to work out a deal with New England. He’s made it clear his intentions are to stay with the Patriots, however, he won’t sacrifice the long term security of his family to do so.

Arrington’s first half of the season was very bumpy. He allowed 76% of his targets completed, while giving up 11.7 yards per pass attempt. His second half of the season was much different. Moving inside to nickel, following the acquisition of Aqib Talib to the Patriots secondary, Arrington graded positively in eight of the last ten weeks of the season (including the playoffs) after a first-half in which he graded positively in just four of the first eight weeks, according to Pro Football Focus. In those final eight weeks, Arrington added eight stops versus, while ranking as the 17th best corner against the run. On the year, Arrington had a negative grade against the run just once.

Many in New England acquaint Arrington’s rise to him shifting inside to nickel, which in part is true, but doesn’t explain the whole story. No better evidence of his improvement on the outside than his strong play in the AFC Championship game versus the Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens. After Talib went out with an injury, Arrington was handed the assignment of guarding red hot wide receiver Torrey Smith, tallying 6 receptions for 98 yards and two scores the week before against the Denver Broncos. Arrington held Smith too just 3 catches for 49 yards on 7 targets over 66 snaps.

 

Donald Thomas, OG, New England- Connecticut, 09-25-1985, 6-4, 303 lbs.

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If the Lions are looking to address their right guard situation outside the organization, following the release of Stephen Peterman, there may not be a better cost-effective option than Thomas.

Playing a reserve role for the Patriots last season, he made seven spot starts when injury’s came up. In those seven starts, Thomas had a positive grade in both run blocking and pass blocking four times.

A predominant run blocker looking for an upgraded role, Thomas, assuming he comes cheap, would add a solid right guard for the near future.

 

Mohamed Massaquoi, WR, Cleveland- Georgia, 11-24-1986, 6’1 210 lbs.

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Massaquoi, who’s set to hit the free agency market Tuesday, seems a perfect fit for the Lions. They’re in search of a big receiver opposite Calvin Johnson, and Massaquoi would also add depth at a receiver position that currently lacks it.

The forgotten, favorite target of Matthew Stafford at Georgia caught 58 passes for 920 yards and 8 scores his senior year in 2008, tallying 118 catches for 1,745 yards and seven touchdowns in his Bulldog career. He was selected in the second round of the 2009 draft by the Browns, while his teammate Stafford went first overall.

His rookie season saw him record 34 receptions for 624 yards and three touchdowns. Last season saw his production go down, 17 receptions for 254 yards in only nine games, but adding a receiver that Stafford is comfortable with can only help the Lions passing attack.

 

E.J Biggers, CB, Tampa Bay- Western Michigan, 06-13-1987, 5’11, 180 lbs.     

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The Lions will add a veteran corner this off-season, the question is whether they’ll add two. Chris Houston is currently testing out the free agent market, and the Lions have made it clear they want him back. With options through the draft and free agency, the former seventh round Western Michigan standout could be one of them.

Biggers struggled in pass defense. His 2012 pass coverage grade was negative 9.9, according to Pro Football Focus, and tallied an overall grade of negative 14.4. Starting 12 games in 2012, Biggers caused three turnovers, a sack and made 51 tackles.

If the Lions pursue Biggers on the open market, look for it to be on a one year deal much like the deals of Eric Wright, Chris Houston and Stephen Tulloch.

 

Geno Hayes, OLB, Tampa Bay- Florida State, 08-10-1987, 6’1, 226 lbs.

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With the recent signing of DeAndre Levy, one outside linebacker spot remains unfilled. With Justin Durant set to hit free agency, Geno Hayes could be a cost effective move to battle Ashlee Palmer for the other.

In 2012, he started just three games adding 16 tackles.

In his three seasons starting for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Hayes forced eight turnovers and provided a steady hand in the run game. The Lions and general manager Martin Mayhew are in the market for play-makers, Hayes could add a cheap resource at linebacker.

 

Mike Patterson, DT, Philadelphia- USC, 09-01-1983, 6’0, 292 lbs.

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Patterson, the former 31st overall selection by the Eagles out of USC, reportedly visited the Lions after being cut by the Eagles last week. Patterson adds great experience working in the wide-9 front, from former Eagle and current Lions defensive line coach Jim Washburn.

Patterson had a negative grade just six times in the past two seasons for the Eagles. He won’t steal anyone’s job in Detroit, however, if recent reports that the Lions our moving on from Sammie Lee Hill are true, the Lions will need to add a rotational defensive tackle.

Adding the veteran leadership and run presence, career high of four sacks in 2007, of a near 300 pound defensive tackle behind Suh and Fairley is a good move by the front office.

 

Ray Edwards, DE, Free Agent- Purdue, 01-01-1985, 6’5, 273 lbs.

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Many Lion enthusiasts wanted the Lions too throw money at Ray Edwards in 2011. It seems far-fetched now, however, but he remains an option for the team in 2013. After signing a lucrative 5 year $30 million dollar deal with the Falcons in 2011, Edwards has failed to meet expectations and was subsequently released by the team following week ten. He accumulated just 3.5 sacks in a little over a season and-a-half for the Falcons, leading to his release.

Part of his struggles in Atlanta, was due to the Falcons changing to a new scheme. Running a 3-4 hybrid defense, the Falcons positioned him as their “Big 3 tackle” sets for much of 2012.

If the Lions can get him at a fair price tag, he would certainly add depth and, potentially, a starting caliber defensive end in Detroit. Following his stint in Atlanta, Edwards tallied 16.5 sacks in his final two seasons in 2009 and 2010.

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