Impending Free Agents
Anquan Boldin will be 37 next season, and after a career that has earned him Hall of Fame consideration, he is contemplating retirement. After the Lions playoff loss, he stated he was interested in returning to Detroit, but now he seems a little less confident. While at the Super Bowl, Mlive’s Kyle Meinke spoke to him about returning to the Lions and Boldin had this to say:
"“I mean, I’m definitely interested,” he said. “But for me, it’s seeing what opportunities lie there, going over them with my wife, because any decision I make does not just affect me. But it affects my wife, my two boys. So it’s something I have to take into consideration.”"
Despite the personal fouls in Seattle, Boldin had a successful 14th season in the NFL. He had 67 catches (2nd most on the team), accounting for 584 yards (4th on the team), and eight touchdowns (most on the team).
While he looks capable of replicating another year like 2016, returning to Detroit may not be up to him. The Lions have made it known that they are looking to upgrade the tight ends unit, and depending on whom they acquire, Eric Ebron may be slotted to take the role Boldin played last season.
Andre Roberts didn’t wow anyone with his offensive stats (14 catches, 188 yards and a touchdown), but he had a knack for making big plays in big situations. Add in two clutch punt returns for touchdowns and Roberts is a big reason the Lions punt return unit ranked 3rd in the NFL according to Rick Gosselin’s special teams rankings.
Roberts will be 30 next season, and it’s possible the Lions want to get younger at the position, but I believe the he’s done enough to get serious consideration from Bob Quinn on returning for the 2017 season.
TJ Jones is an Exclusive Rights Free Agent and will only be able to negotiate with the Lions for a 2017 contract. He will likely be offered a minimal salary and allowed to earn a position on the team in training camp.
Existing Player Roles
Golden Tate and Marvin Jones Jr. are both under contract and are fixtures on the Lions offense moving forward. Jones will once again occupy an outside vertical threat role, while Tate will be used all over the field. Tate’s flexibility gives the Lions options on the types of players they can add in the offseason.
Jace Billingsley was a late season addition to the active roster, coming off the practice squad. While he was not active on game days, this promotion illustrates how the Lions feel about the young playmaker. He will get a shot to prove himself in training camp, and after a year of learning the offensive system, he is a name to watch in 2017.
Here’s a reminder of what he’s capable of:
Ryan Spadola, Jared Abbrederis, and Andrew Turzilli were signed to futures deal and will have a chance to compete in training camp for a role on the 2017 team. Spadola is an interesting name here as he was Bob Quinn’s first free agent signing but he spent 2016 on injured reserve.