The Detroit Lions should consider signing free-agent defensive tackle Marcell Dareus. The former Buffalo Bill and Jacksonville Jaguars’ interior lineman is a perfect fit for Matt Patricia’s defense.
It’s a Detroit Lions defensive line that still could use some attention. If General Manager (GM) Bob Quinn doesn’t feel the need to make another splash in free agency adding someone like Larry Warford or Jadeveon Clowney, the focus should shift to adding a couple more depth players instead.
The Jacksonville Jaguars decided to decline their team option on Marcell Dareus, making the veteran interior tackle a free agent. Dareus signed a two-year $28-million contract but vastly underperformed last season, prompting the rebuilding Jaguars to cut-ties. In doing so, Jacksonville is on the hook for a mere $2.5-million in dead cap money this season.
Dareus was initially drafted third overall by the Buffalo Bills in the 2011 NFL Draft. The Alabama native played his college football with his hometown Crimson Tide earning himself the defensive MVP in the 2010 National Championship Game.
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After enjoying plenty of success on the field with the Buffalo Bills, the off-field issues continued to mount. Dareus had been suspended on two different occasions for violating the NFL’s substance-abuse policy. Once being suspended for just one game, the second violation came with a four-game suspension.
Dareus had plenty of success playing under Doug Marrone in Buffalo and enjoyed plenty of success with former Detroit Lions head coach Jim Schwartz as the teams’ defensive coordinator. Dareus would eventually reunite with Marrone in Jacksonville via a trade for just a fifth-round pick.
Last season Dareus was limited to just six games after being placed on season-ending injured reserve due to a core injury that required surgery. After three seasons with the Jaguars, Dareus played in only 30 games.
Marcell is the perfect Matt Patricia prototype defensive tackle standing 6-foot-3, 330-pounds. He’d be an ideal player to line up alongside nose tackle Danny Shelton in early down situations. The pair would thrive at stopping the run and controlling the line of scrimmage. They’d make a perfect pair inside when the Detroit Lions use a four-person front.
Da’Shawn Hand is expected to play a significant role in 2020, but considering last season was a lost year for Hand, it’s great to have a backup plan in place. Detroit also added Nick Williams from the Chicago Bears to be a rotational lineman, and John Atkins will look to earn himself more of a role inside. Dareus, if healthy, will be an upgrade to both.
The Detroit Lions also drafted John Penisini, who has the potential to bi-pass both Atkins and Williams on Detroit’s depth chart if he performs well in training camp and the preseason.
According to Pro Football Focus, Dareus is coming off of the worst year of his career, only earning a 62.6 overall grade. Considering that disappointing mark he proved to remain stout against the run with a 68.7 mark. Sure, below his regular elite mark defending the run but remember it came from just a small sample size in 2019. It’s well below the 80s & 90s mark he’d regularly earn as a member of the Buffalo Bills and the 79.7 overall grade from 2018.
In 2018, Dareus recorded 33 tackles, 21 stops, one sack, and 12 quarterback hurries playing 563 snaps, the most since 757 in 2015. Considering last season was an injury-riddled year, these 2018 stats seem more meaningful.
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At the right price, on a one-year deal, Dareus is someone the Detroit Lions need to consider adding in a depth role.