The Detroit Lions should sign free agent linebacker Jake Ryan to a one-year deal.
After drafting a pair of rookie linebackers in the first three rounds of the NFL Draft, the Baltimore Ravens released veteran linebacker Jake Ryan who they just signed this Winter. The Detroit Lions should consider bringing in Ryan on a cheap one-year deal to compete for a depth linebacker role.
Since leaving the Green Bay Packers, it’s been a tough row to hoe for the former Michigan Wolverine standout linebacker. Ryan has been hampered by serious injuries over the last two seasons.
Ryan, a fourth-round draft pick in 2015 by the Green Bay Packers, played sparingly during his rookie season but transitioned into a starter in year two. Like many young players, Ryan struggled during his first two seasons but found his way in his third year playing much-more effectively in Green Bay’s base 3-4 defense.
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During that third-year, Ryan amassed 76 tackles, created one sack, and scored one touchdown. It’s not exactly the production you’d hope from an every-down middle linebacker, but he’s proved to be a serviceable NFL player. Pro Football Focus awarded Ryan with a stellar 85.6 pass-rush grade in ’17 and an overall mark of 75.7.
Why should the Detroit Lions bring in another linebacker?
The Detroit Lions are set with Jahlani Tavai, Reggie Ragland, and Jarrad Davis. Still, there is nothing wrong with bringing in a depth linebacker to compete for a special teams role with the likes of Christian Sam, Jason Cabinda, Anthony Pittman, Elijah Lee, and Jalen Reeves-Maybin.
Ryan’s final season with Green Bay was lost due to an ACL injury. Last season as a member of the Jacksonville Jaguars, the former Wolverine played just two plays on special teams before yet being shut down for the remainder of the season due to another knee injury.
The 28-year old linebacker’s time in Baltimore where he’d sign this offseason hoping to rejuvenate his career and prove to the league he’s once again healthy was as short-lived as it could be. After being cut and having plenty of injury concerns, Ryan will be a cheap option who will be willing to sign a one-year ‘prove-it’ year, so why not make it sort of a homecoming with the Detroit Lions?
The Lions are in a position to continue to exhaust all of their options to improve their roster. Ryan will look to mirror his one-year $985,000 contract he signed with Baltimore elsewhere. It’s not a massive risk for a player that can help to defend the run playing as a middle linebacker on early downs, plus he fits in Matt Patricia’s versatile defensive alignments.
If Ryan fails to earn a roster spot, the Detroit Lions will be able to release him having no impact financially on the organization.