The Detroit Lions added to their free agent haul on Saturday by signing tight end Darren Fells, formerly of the Arizona Cardinals.
Depth behind Eric Ebron at tight end was one of the Detroit Lions biggest needs on offense heading into the offseason. With Rick Wagner signed to replace Riley Reiff, it may have become the biggest remaining need.
The Lions took a step in addressing that today by signing free agent tight end Darren Fells.
As the Lions noted in the press release announcing the signing, Fells took an interesting path to the NFL, which is actually the second sport he has played professionally.
"Following a four-year basketball career at UC-Irvine, Fells spent four years (2008-12) as a professional basketball player overseas with stints in Argentina, Belgium, Finland, France and Mexico. He transitioned into the NFL as a free agent with the Seattle Seahawks in 2013 and went on to spend his rookie season as a member of the Cardinals practice squad. In three NFL seasons, he has played in 38 career games (24 starts) and totaled 40 receptions for 536 yards and four touchdowns."
Fells finished last season ranked as the number 31 tight end according to Pro Football Focus, although his areas of strength are just what the Lions need. He ranked third among tight ends for pass blocking and 17th for run blocking.
Ranking 40th for receiving shows that isn’t his primary skill, but is good enough to be an occasional option and fits as as a team’s second tight end.
Signing Fells should end any interest the Lions had in Jared Cook or any other free agent tight ends. It shouldn’t, however, change their plans in the draft. The 2017 NFL Draft is regarded as a very good for tight end talent and is a great opportunity to build the tight end depth chart for the present and future.